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Who’s in and who’s out? The 2019 NBA Draft Early Entry List

Updated: March 31, 2019 | 1:00pm

The end of the college basketball season carries with it the beginning of underclassmen declaring their NBA Draft intentions.

With the ability of underclassmen to go through the pre-draft process and combine, gaining valuable insight from NBA scouts without relinquishing their college eligibility, the list of those declaring for the NBA Draft grows by the year. Note that NCAA players can declare and withdraw from the draft twice without forfeiting their college eligibility.

Players have until 11:59 pm ET on April 21 to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. Players who hire an agent immediately forfeit their remaining collegiate eligibility (although plans are in the works and waiting to be ratified by the NBA and NBPA which would allow undrafted players to retain college eligibility after going through an Undergraduate Advisory Committee evaluation). Players who don’t hire an agent have until May 29 (10 days after the NBA Draft Combine ends) to withdraw and return to college.

Players are divided into one of the following four lists and will be updated regularly as new information becomes available:

  1. Those who are IN THE DRAFT (have declared for the draft and signed [or intend to sign] with an agent)
  2. Those who are TESTING THE WATERS (have declared for the draft but not signed with an agent)
  3. Those who are RETURNING TO COLLEGE (have declared their intention to return to school and not enter the draft)
  4. Those who we are still WAITING TO HEAR FROM (have NBA potential but have not announced a decision one way or the other)

Each declaration is painstakingly researched to make sure you are supplied with the most up-to-date and accurate player information. You won’t find any “according to a source” in this article. Accompanying each player, you’ll find a hyperlink to his declaration, a press release from the school or other official announcement.

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IN THE DRAFT
** = Hiring agent while maintaining college eligibility

  1. Bol Bol | Oregon | Freshman | C | 7’2” | 235lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  2. Ky Bowman | Boston College | Junior | G | 6’1” | 188lb | Link
  3. Yoeli Childs | BYU | Junior | F | 6’8” | 225lb | Link
  4. **CJ Elleby | Washington State | Freshman | F | 6’6” | 200lb | Link
  5. Daniel Gafford | Arkansas | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 233lb | Link
  6. Darius Garland | Vanderbilt | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 175lb | Link 1| Link 2
  7. Dewan Hernandez | Miami | Junior | F | 6’11” | 236lb | Link 1| Link 2
  8. Amir Hinton | Shaw (D2) | Junior | G | 6’5” | 190lb | Link 
  9. Romeo Langford | Indiana | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 215lb | Link
  10. Nassir Little | North Carolina | Freshman | F | 6’6” | 220lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  11. Skylar Mays | LSU | Junior | G | 6’4” | 200lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  12. Jalen McDaniels | San Diego State | RS Sophomore | G | 5’9” | 160lb | Link
  13. Ja Morant | Murray State | Sophomore | G | 6’3” | 175lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  14. Miye Oni | Yale | Junior | G | 6’6” | 210lb | Link 1| Link 2
  15. Shamorie Ponds | St. John’s | Junior | G | 6’1” | 180lb | Link 1| Link 2
  16. Isaiah Reese | Canisius | Junior | G | 6’5” | 185lb | Link
  17. Naz Reid | LSU | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 250lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  18. Simi Shittu | Vanderbilt | Freshman | F/C | 6’10” | 240lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  19. Tremont Waters | LSU | Sophomore | G | 5’11” | 175lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  20. Coby White | North Carolina | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 185lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  21. Lindell Wigginton | Iowa State | Sophomore | G | 6’2” | 189lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  22. Kris Wilkes | UCLA | Sophomore | G | 6’8” | 215lb | Link 1| Link 2

TESTING THE WATERS
* = Waiting on confirmation of declaration

  1. Bryce Aiken | Harvard | Junior | G | 6’0” | 175lb | Link
  2. *Tyus Battle | Syracuse | Junior | G | 6’6” | 205lb
  3. Jordan Bone | Tennessee | Junior | G | 6’3” | 180lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  4. Oshae Brissett | Syracuse | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 210lb | Link
  5. Charlie Brown, Jr. | Saint Joseph’s | RS Sophomore | F | 6’7” | 199lb | Link
  6. Steven Enoch | Louisville | RS Junior | C | 6’10” | 260lb | Link 1| Link 2
  7. Talen Horton-Tucker | Iowa State | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 233lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  8. Nathan Knight | William & Mary | Junior | F/C | 6’10” | 245lb | Link 1| Link 2
  9. Sagaba Konate | West Virginia | Junior | F | 6’8” | 250lb | Link
  10. Jaylen Nowell | Washington | Sophomore | G | 6’4” | 200lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  11. Jordan Nwora | Louisville | Sophomore | F | 6’7” | 225lb | Link
  12. Reggie Perry | Mississippi State | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 245lb | Link 1 | Link 2 
  13. *Jontay Porter | Missouri | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 240lb
  14. Myles Powell | Seton Hall | Junior | G | 6’2” | 195lb | Link 1 | Link 2
  15. Samir Sehic | Tulane | RS Junior | F | 6’9” | 235lb | Link
  16. Derrik Smits | Valparaiso (Transfer) | RS Junior | C | 7’1” | 240lb | Link 1| Link 2
  17. Jimmy Whitt, Jr. | SMU | Junior | G | 6’3” | 175lb | Link

RETURNING TO COLLEGE

  1. John Petty | Alabama | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 197lb | Link
  2. LaMont West | West Virginia (transferring to Missouri State) | Junior | F | 6’8” | 222lb | Link

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WAITING TO HEAR FROM

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker | Virginia Tech | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 205lb
  2. Udoka Azubuike | Kansas | Junior | C | 7’0” | 270lb
  3. Geo Baker | Rutgers | Sophomore | G | 6’4” | 180lb
  4. RJ Barrett | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 202lb
  5. Charles Bassey | Western Kentucky | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 245lb
  6. Darius Bazley | 1 year removed from high school | F | 6’9” | 200lb
  7. Marques Bolden | Duke | Junior | C | 6’11” | 250lb
  8. Brian Bowen | Sydney Kings (Australia) | F | 6’7” | 190lb
  9. Ignas Brazdeikis | Michigan | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 215lb
  10. Jordan Brown | Nevada | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 210lb
  11. Moses Brown | UCLA | Freshman | C | 7’1” | 245lb
  12. Taeshon Cherry | Arizona State | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 210lb
  13. Brandon Clarke | Gonzaga | RS Junior | F | 6’8” | 215lb
  14. Tyler Cook | Iowa | Junior | F | 6’9” | 250lb
  15. Jarrett Culver | Texas Tech | Sophomore | G | 6’6” | 195lb
  16. Silvio De Sousa | Kansas | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 245lb
  17. Luguentz Dort | Arizona State | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 215lb
  18. Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 185lb
  19. Devon Dotson | Kansas | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 185lb
  20. Carsen Edwards | Purdue | Junior | G | 6’1” | 200lb
  21. Bruno Fernando | Maryland | Sophomore | F | 6’10” | 240lb
  22. Quade Green | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’1” | 170lb
  23. Quentin Grimes | Kansas | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 210lb
  24. Kyle Guy | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’2” | 175lb
  25. Rui Hachimura | Gonzaga | Junior | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  26. Ashton Hagans | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’3” | 192lb
  27. Jaxson Hayes | Texas | Freshman | F | 6’11” | 220lb
  28. Tyler Herro | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  29. Jaylen Hoard | Wake Forest | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 215lb
  30. Daulton Hommes | Point Loma (D2) | Junior | G | 6’8” | 215lb
  31. Markus Howard | Marquette | Junior | G | 5’11” | 175lb
  32. De’Andre Hunter | Virginia | RS Sophomore | G | 6’7” | 225lb
  33. Ty Jerome | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  34. Keldon Johnson | Kentucky | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 211lb
  35. Herbert Jones | Alabama | Sophomore | G | 6’7” | 206lb
  36. Tre Jones | Duke | Freshman | G | 6’2” | 183lb
  37. Braxton Key | Virginia | Junior | G | 6’8” | 225lb
  38. Louis King | Oregon | Freshman | F | 6’9” | 205lb
  39. VJ King | Louisville | Junior | G/F | 6’6” | 215lb
  40. Joshua Langford | Michigan State | Junior | G | 6’5” | 210lb
  41. Dedric Lawson | Kansas | RS Junior | F | 6’9” | 235lb
  42. Jalen Lecque | High School (5th Year Senior) | G | 6’4” | 190lb
  43. Kalob Ledoux | Louisiana Tech | Junior | G | 6’3” | 190lb
  44. EJ Montgomery | Kentucky | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 225lb
  45. Zach Norvell, Jr. | Gonzaga | RS Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 205lb
  46. Chuma Okeke | Auburn | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  47. KZ Okpala | Stanford | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 215lb
  48. Lamar Peters | Mississippi State | Junior | G | 6’0” | 185lb
  49. Jordan Poole | Michigan | Sophomore | G | 6’5” | 195lb
  50. Kevin Porter, Jr. | USC | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 218lb
  51. Payton Pritchard Oregon | Junior | G | 6’2” | 195lb
  52. Danjel Purifoy | Auburn | Junior | F | 6’7” | 230lb
  53. Neemias Queta | Utah State | Freshman | C | 6’11” | 240lb
  54. Cam Reddish | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’8” | 218lb
  55. Paul Reed | DePaul | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 210lb
  56. AJ Reeves | Providence | Freshman | G | 6’6” | 210lb
  57. Nick Richards | Kentucky | Sophomore | F | 6’11” | 244lb
  58. Isaiah Roby | Nebraska | Junior | F | 6’8” | 230lb
  59. Javonte Smart | LSU | Freshman | G | 6’4” | 200lb
  60. Jalen Smith | Maryland | Freshman | F | 6’10” | 215lb
  61. Xavier Sneed | Kansas State | Junior | F | 6’5” | 220lb
  62. Killian Tillie | Gonzaga | Junior | F | 6’10” | 220lb
  63. Nick Ward | Michigan State | Junior | F | 6’9” | 245lb
  64. PJ Washington | Kentucky | Sophomore | F | 6’8” | 228lb
  65. Nick Weatherspoon | Mississippi State | Sophomore | G | 6’2” | 195lb
  66. Austin Wiley | Auburn | Junior | C | 6’11” | 260lb
  67. Grant Williams | Tennessee | Junior | F | 6’7” | 236lb
  68. Zion Williamson | Duke | Freshman | F | 6’7” | 285lb
  69. Cassius Winston | Michigan State | G | 6’1” | 185lb
  70. Kenny Wooten | Oregon | Sophomore | F | 6’9” | 235lb
  71. Omer Yurtseven | Georgetown | Junior | C | 7’0” | 275lb

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Remember to check back regularly as this article will be updated with each player announcement.

If you have updated information, please contact Isaac Schade (@isaacschade | isaacschade@gmail.com).

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Auburn (NCAA Tournament – Sweet 16)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 97-80 season-ending loss to Auburn on Friday evening in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Highlights:

  • What a fun season it’s been. This team really took us on a ride; rounding into form by winning 17 out of 19 games prior to this loss. That streak lead to a shared ACC regular season championship. The only two losses in those 19 games were to fellow one seeds Duke and Virginia.
  • The abrupt and harsh ending that the NCAA Tournament delivers is always jarring. The unexpected loss will put a sour taste in the mouth of Tar Heel fans for some time. Seeing Kenny Williams on the sideline in tears after checking out for the final time is one of the most heartbreaking images you’ll ever see.
  • Who would have thought that the unheralded class of Kenny Williams and Luke Maye would wind up as one of the most accomplished classes in the history of North Carolina basketball? But that’s where we find ourselves. This is a credit to the coaching staff. It’s high time that the college basketball world begins to fully appreciate Roy Williams for the coach that he is.

  • While not as talented as the 2012 team, the external injury circumstances that led to that teams’ demise seem to have struck again this year at just the wrong time in the form of Nassir Little and Cam Johnson’s illness, Coby White’s tweaked ankle, and Kenny Williams’ hamstring.
  • At the same time, those are excuses and take away from Auburn’s three-point barrage in the second half. Fully healthy or not, Carolina simply didn’t have the defensive answers to slow down what the Tigers did after halftime.
  • Going back to the illnesses / injuries, it was clear that Little and Johnson were not themselves on Friday night. Little did not have his usual otherworldly explosion to the rim – he was blocked twice on dunks that would never have happened on a normal night. Johnson, will still tying for the team lead in scoring and having three steals, seemed a step behind all night. After tweaking his ankle five minutes before halftime, Coby White stayed in the game but didn’t possess his usual blow-by capabilities.

  • By hitting two three-pointers in his final game, Cam Johnson finished the season with 96, the second most in a single season in Carolina history. What a pick-up he was for Roy Williams’ club over the previous two years. With all due respect to Pittsburgh and their program, Johnson is a Tar Heel.
  • The Tar Heels finish the season with 312 made three-pointers as a team, the most in program history for a single season.
  • Unfortunately, the story on this night was Auburn’s three-point shooting. After Carolina did a reasonable job guarding deep shots in the first half, the Tigers exploded for 12 threes after halftime (on just 18 attempts).
  • Coming into the game, rebounding appeared to be a plus for the Tar Heels, while three-point shooting was a plus for the Tigers. Curiously, Auburn matched Carolina in rebounds in the first half (21) while Carolina matched Auburn in threes in the first half (five).
  • With many players struggling to make baskets, it was great to see Kenny Williams shoot well in his final collegiate game. The senior finished with 10 points, including hitting two threes. The Tar Heels will struggle to replace his defensive grit and determination next season.
  • Hard to believe but Luke Maye finishes his career with the 10th most rebounds in Carolina history (942). He also recorded 377 rebounds this season, the seventh most in a single season in the Tar Heel record book. Maye is the only player in program history to have two entries in the single-season top 10 rebounding list. Maye finishes his career tied with Kris Lang for 39th on the all-time Carolina scoring list with 1392 points.
  • After dominating their first two NCAA Tournament opponents on the glass, Carolina could not take advantage of a poor rebounding Auburn team, only holding a 40-36 advantage in that category.
  • What contrasting styles between the North Carolina / Auburn game and the Texas Tech / Michigan game from Thursday night. The Heels and Tigers had combined for 14 points just 1:45 into the game. The Red Raiders and Wolverines took 10:39 to achieve the same.
  • Other than back-to-back ill-advised shots around the 6:00 mark, when Carolina seemed poised to make a last push, Brandon Robinson had another solid showing. He finished with nine points, hit two threes, grabbed four rebounds, had three assists, and zero turnovers (against a team build to force them). Robinson’s continued development over the summer will be an important key to Carolina’s success in 2019-20.
  • Carolina didn’t play a great first half, but did enough to put themselves in position to take over in the second half (similar to the Iona game). However, a 14-0 run from Auburn that spanned the end of the first half and beginning of the second half gave the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish. The Heels never again got any closer than six.
  • The part of the game that you hate to see: Auburn’s Chuma Okeke suffered a non-contact injury to his left knee with 8:08 left in the game. Okeke’s knee buckled as he drove to the basket. While he eventually hobbled off the court under his own power, the injury had the appearance of an ACL issue. Best wishes to Okeke in his recovery.

Roy Williams, Kenny Williams, Luke Maye post-game press conference:

While there will sadly be no more Quick Hitters this season, stay tuned throughout the off-season for updates on recruiting decisions, potential transfers, NBA early entry decisions, roster composition for 2019-20, and more.

On a personal note, thanks so much for continuing to read my work. I love getting to write about North Carolina basketball and would do it just for myself, but it’s an honor to do it for others as well. I’m so thankful for everyone who reaches out to say how much they enjoy reading. Your kindness is overwhelming.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Washington (NCAA Tournament – 2nd Round)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 81-59 win over Washington on Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Highlights:

  • The Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16 for the 29th time in program history; the most all-time. While a Sweet 16 appearance is not the ultimate goal, let’s keep it in perspective: There are only 16 of the 353 D1 men’s basketball teams still playing and Carolina is one of them. That never gets old. See for yourself:
  • Cameron Johnson made three more three-pointers to run his season total to 94. That ties him with Marcus Paige (2014-15) for the third most in a single season in Carolina history. In second place is Shammond Williams with 95.
  • Luke Maye just keeps piling up career accolades. Against Washington, Maye set NCAA Tournament career highs in both points (20) and rebounds (14). His 20 points move him into 40th on the all-time Carolina scoring list (1379). His 14 rebounds move him into 11th on the all-time Carolina rebounding list (935). If Maye grabs seven rebounds against Auburn, he’ll move past Eric Montross into 10th.
  • Wrap your brain around this: Luke Maye is the only person in program history to have two entries on the Carolina single season top ten rebounding list. Maye now has 370 rebounds this season; ninth-most in a single season for a Tar Heel. The next person Maye would pass on that list is…himself from last season. Depending on how far the Heels go in the NCAA Tournament, Maye has a shot at recording just the second 400 rebound season in Carolina history (Brice Johnson – 416 in 2015-16).
  • The Tar Heels have been dominant on the boards thus far in the NCAA Tournament. Iona? Doubled them up (52-26). Washington? Doubled them up as well (48-24). That’s a total of 100 rebounds for Carolina vs. just 50 for their opponents.
  • A couple scary injury moments in this one. Garrison Brooks took an elbow to the mouth in the first half, which damaged two of his teeth and required stitches. Brooks missed the rest of the first half while being attended to, but came back out and had a solid second half. Not coincidentally, thanks to Brooks’ steady defense, his first half absence was the only point at which it seemed like Washington could potentially make a run.

  • The other injury occurred in the opening moments of the second half when Kenny Williams got a steal on Washington’s first possession. Unfortunately, he appeared to tweak his left hamstring. After being evaluated, Williams eventually returned to the game. Thankfully he has several days to recover before playing Auburn on Friday night.
  • Don’t look now, but Nassir Little is rising (#NassirRising). With 19 points against Iona and 20 against Washington, he has his highest two game scoring output of his Tar Heel career. There was a stretch in the second half when he scored 11 straight for Carolina, including a monster block.
  • Coby White broke out of his shooting slump early and often. He hit 4-for-5 from three in the first 11 minutes of the game. White finished with 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal and several drives to the hoop against a defense geared at “stopping three-pointers and layups”.
  • White wasn’t the only player to shoot better from deep. As a team the Tar Heels shot 9-for-21 (42.9 percent) from three, the best percentage since playing Wake Forest on February 16.
  • As per usual, Carolina played great zone offense, sharing the ball and operating out of the opening at the free throw line. Quietly, Cam Johnson had seven assists and zero turnovers. This was the most assists he’s had as a Tar Heel and tied his career high.
  • Once or twice a game, Carolina will execute a picture-perfect fast break. With 11:20 to go before halftime, Nassir Little grabbed a rebound, threw a long outlet pass to Cameron Johnson, who hit Brandon Robinson for the lay-up.
  • This Tar Heel team is really difficult to guard because the scoring comes from so many different players and in so many different ways. In five of the last six games, at least four Tar Heels scored in double figures.
  • Washington scored the first bucket of the second half to cut the Carolina lead to five. From there, the Heels went on a 13-0 run over the next 4:30 to push the lead to 18. Washington would never again get within single digits. That is how an experienced team closes an NCAA Tournament game.

Roy Williams, Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament against Auburn on Friday, March 29. Tip is at 7:29ET on TBS.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Iona (NCAA Tournament – 1st Round)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-73 win over Iona on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Highlights:

  • With Luke Maye’s 16 points tonight, three different Tar Heels have scored 500 points this year (Cam Johnson – 580, Coby White – 530, Maye – 502). That’s happened seven previous times in program history. Those seasons each worked out pretty well: 3 National Championships (1992-93, 2008-09, 2016-17), 1 National Runner-Up (1980-81), 2 Final Fours (1994-95, 1997-98), and 1 Elite Eight (1986-87).
  • Roy Williams is now 29-0 all-time in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament.

  • Cam Johnson has made 91 three-pointers this season. He is just the fifth Tar Heel to hit 90 threes in a single season. Justin Jackson (105), Shammond Williams (95), Marcus Paige (94), and Joel Berry (93) are the other four.

  • Coby White now has one or fewer turnovers in four of the last five games. He had achieved this just three times in his 28 games prior.

  • At halftime, both teams had 14 defensive rebounds. The difference was that Carolina also had 14 offensive rebounds to Iona’s two. The Gaels only managed 10 more rebounds the rest of the game, none of which were offensive. Overall, Carolina doubled up Iona on the glass 52-26 and had 25 second chance points to the Gaels’ three.
  • Interestingly, no Tar Heel had double-digit rebounds, but all five starters had between six and nine.
  • This projected to be a high-scoring game with both teams in the top-50 in tempo according to KenPom. However, Iona decided to slow the game down and try to take Carolina out of transition. It worked in the first half with the Heels only scoring two fast break points in that stretch.
  • A big part of why Iona’s plan worked is that they hit 10 three-pointers in the first half while Carolina struggled to run offense against the Gaels’ match-up zone. The second half, however, was a different story. The Gaels hit their second three-pointer of the second half, before missing their next 12 by which point the Heels were up by 18.
  • It’s always a question how freshmen will respond to their first NCAA Tournament game. While most of the team was struggling in the first half, it was Coby White and Nassir Little who led the way offensively. White scored eight of the team’s first 12. Nassir Little picked up his second foul with 8:49 left before halftime, but stayed in the game and proceeded to score Carolina’s next three buckets. Little finished second on the team in scoring with 19 (behind Johnson’s 21) on an efficient 9-for-13 shooting.

  • While being less of a factor than his classmates, Leaky Black saw his first game action since spraining his ankle on January 29 against Georgia Tech. He secured three rebounds in the last four minutes of the first half and played well other than a turnover in the closing seconds before halftime.
  • The seniors were the primary culprits of the first-half woes. The three combined to shoot 6-for-22, including 1-for-8 from three point range. But then the second half happened. After halftime, Carolina went on an 11-3 run to grab a 44-41 lead. All 11 of those points were scored by the senior trio, who shot a combined 10-for-15 (4-for-6 from deep) in the second half. After the 11-3 run, Iona scored the next two points before the Heels reeled off a backbreaking 19-4 run to essentially put the game out of reach.
  • It was another balanced scoring night for the Tar Heels, with five Tar Heels in double figures and Kenny Williams chipping in eight.
  • Speaking of Kenny Williams, keep an eye on his right knee. He checked out of the game with just a couple minutes remaining and had the training staff check him out.

  • The second round will be an interesting match-up against Washington, whose head coach, Mike Hopkins, was a long-time Syracuse assistant and runs Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense. It’s worth noting that since Syracuse came to the ACC, the Tar Heels are 8-1 against the Orange (the only loss coming in the teams’ first ACC match-up). In those games, the Tar Heels have averaged 20 assists per game and assisted on 69.2 percent of made field goals. In the three most recent meetings, those numbers jump to 21.3 assists per game, while assisting on an absurd 81.0 percent of made field goals.

Roy Williams, Nassir Little, Cameron Johnson postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Washington on Sunday, March 24. Tip is approximately 2:40ET (following Iowa/Tennessee) on CBS.

Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here.

 

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Duke (ACC Semifinal)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-73 loss to Duke on Friday night in the ACC Tournament semifinals.

Highlights:

 

  • Carolina might have lost this game (and what a game it was!), but if these Tar Heels aren’t worthy of a one seed, I don’t know what the committee is looking at.
  • It would have been obviously nice to win this game and wrap up a one seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tar Heels have to walk away from this one feeling like they didn’t play anywhere close to their best basketball and were still one play away from beating the most talented collection of college basketball players (notice I didn’t use the word team) in America. And, as a reminder, it’s incredibly hard to beat a team three times in a season.

 

 

 

 

  • Despite the missed shot from Coby White at the end of the game, did you catch what happened? As soon as the buzzer sounded, Seventh Woods ran directly to where White was to console his fellow point guard. That is TEAM. That is FAMILY.

 

 

 

  • Carolina shot just 4-for-26 from three. Two of those came in the first three minutes of the game. Not going to win many ball games that way. Several of the 22 misses were poor shot selection or settling when a potential better shot was available. For example, Cam Johnson had the shorter Jordan Goldwire on him, but Carolina only exploited this mismatch once. Additionally, the Heels had depth and conditioning on their side but got away from those things.
  • Anytime you lose a close game like this you remember the little things: Coby White uncharacteristically missing the front end of a 1-and-1. Carolina stripping the ball in the final two minutes, but it rolling right past everyone to a wide open lay-up for Jordan Goldwire. Carolina stopping Zion Williamson on Duke’s last possession, but allowing him the offensive rebound and put-back.
  • Carolina turned the ball over just eight times tonight. Over the last four games, the Heels have averaged 9.5 per game. With the fourth best pace in America, that’s an incredible number. Coby White did come back down to earth in the turnover department tonight, committing three.
  • UNC had a 13-point lead with 6:24 left before halftime. Zion Williamson immediately came down and hit a three (Duke’s first of the game) and by the time that halftime rolled around, Duke had tied the game at 44. It was likely in this stretch where the Heels had the mental lapses that ultimately cost them the game.
  • The Tar Heels won the rebounding battle 44-39, the offensive rebounding battle 16-10, and second chance points 16-12. Yet it felt like Duke killed Carolina in offensive rebounding and put-backs time after time, including the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) bucket from Zion Williamson.
  • Kenny Williams did another remarkable job guarding RJ Barrett. He scored 15 points, but took 15 shots to do so. Williams didn’t have an incredible scoring night, but did contribute nine points (including the only three-pointer Carolina made in the second half), three assists and just one turnover.
  • As a team Carolina once again drew multiple offensive fouls on Duke, including two on Barrett that sent him to the bench in the first half.
  • Luke Maye had a double-double, 14 points and 13 rebounds. He is now the 12th member of the 900 rebound club in Carolina history. Maye sits at 912 rebounds right now and needs 30 more career rebounds to make it into the top ten (Eric “Big Grits” Montross is 10th with 941).
  • Uncharacteristically of a Roy Williams-coached basketball game, only eight players saw the court tonight: The usual five starters plus Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Seventh Woods.

 

 

  • Similar to Thursday night, Cam Johnson got off to another hot start. He started off 3-for-3, including two threes, for Carolina’s first eight points. He scored 14 points in the first 8:10 and finished with 23 to lead the Heels in scoring. After going 5-for-5 from the free throw line, his percentage in those shots is back up into the 80 percent range.
  • Brandon Robinson had another productive night, in just eight minutes. He scored five points on 2-for-2 shooting, drew a charge, and had two assists.
  • There are so many big plays back and forth that could be detailed from the second half during which neither team led by more than four points over the final 9:30. In fact, the teams traded one point leads twice in the final 2:30. A great game, that didn’t end the way the Tar Heels wanted. But a reminder: The ACC Tournament is not the ultimate goal. In fact, you should also remember that each of Roy Williams’ three National Champion seasons at Carolina have come on the, ahem, heels of a semifinal loss in the ACC Tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game.

Next up is the NCAA Tournament starting on either Thursday, Marcy 21 or Friday, March 22. Opponent, date, tip time, and TV channel will be announced on Sunday, March 17 during the NCAA Selection Show on CBS, which starts at 6:00ET.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Louisville (ACC Quarterfinal)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 83-70 win over Louisville on Thursday evening in the ACC Quarterfinals.

Highlights:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Hard to believe that this is the same team as the one that got blown out by Louisville just over two months ago in the Dean Dome. Since that game, Carolina has won 15 of 16 (including two against the Cardinals). Safe to say that embarrassment and the ensuing look in the mirror was the turning point in the season for the Tar Heels.

 

 

 

 

  • Louisville is always long, pesky, and athletic. So to get another convincing win over them, especially in a tournament scenario, is a big deal. This was the win the Tar Heels had to have in order to lock-up at least a two seed in the NCAA Tournament (which might have already been locked up) and keep the path open for a one seed. A win over Duke tomorrow all but assures the Heels of a one seed. A loss to Duke doesn’t necessarily lose the one seed, but it does mean that the Heels will have to see what other teams do in their conference tournaments.
  • Tomorrow’s semifinals will be the first time in history that three teams in the AP top five are all playing in a conference tournament semifinals. The ACC semifinals will probably be better than the Final Four.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rebounding was an important factor in the first two match-ups, with Louisville winning Round One 40-31 and Carolina winning Round Two 49-32. Louisville’s Coach Mack stressed the importance to his team about keeping Carolina off the glass. To no avail. The Heels held a 44-35 rebounding advantage at the end of the night.
  • Coach Mack had also cautioned his team about keeping Carolina out of transition. I’m not sure how to put this kindly, but, um, they didn’t do that. The Heels scored 10 fast break points in first 7:30 of the game and finished with 34 total fast break points.
  • Coby White really struggled in the first two Louisville games. He shot a combined 3-for-18, including 0-for-9 on threes and scored 12 total points. Tonight he had triple-double-like numbers, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists, with just one turnover. After multiple turnovers in each of the first 16 ACC games, White has finished with zero or one in the last two regular season games and the ACC Quarterfinals. In those three games he has a 6:1 assist to turnover ratio. He also had a ridiculous move and and-1 with 17:05 left in the game:

 

 

  • While Leaky Black was back in uniform, he didn’t see the court. Sterling Manley, however, got a little playing time in the second half with the game very much still in question. With Garrison Brooks saddled with four fouls, Manley came in with 9:24 to go to spell Luke Maye leading up to the under-8:00 media timeout. Manley got a dunk and tipped away a post entry pass in his 90 seconds on the court.
  • 10 players played. Nine of them scored. Eight of them grabbed a rebound. Seven of them had an assist.
  • The Heels didn’t shoot the lights out from deep, but after a combined 9-for-46 (19.6 percent) in the first two games, a 7-for-20 (35 percent) clip was much improved. Especially because three of those made threes were bonus production from Nassir Little (one) and Brandon Robinson (two). Both players filled up the stat sheet well in other ways as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Carolina only turned the ball over nine times, just one of which came from the point guard position.
  • There’s always a tension in the ACC Tournament of playing for NCAA Tournament seeding while also staying healthy and not exhausting the team. Recall the John Henson injury in 2012. Last year’s team seemed to have an NCAA Tournament hangover after beating Duke in the ACC Tournament semifinals. Yet in 2017, Carolina lost to Duke in the semifinals and went on to win the National Championship. So how was the health tonight? Garrison Brooks fell and hurt his elbow early, but came back in and seemed to be okay. He had a couple nice moves inside and finished with 11 points. Kenny Williams took his usual bumps and bruises, including injuring his right shoulder and appearing to get poked in the eye.
  • Speaking of Kenny Williams, how did he follow up his Senior Night performance against Duke? He had a rough shooting night and finished with four points. However, as previously mentioned he held Jordan Nwora to just seven points and, as per normal, was all over the court causing havoc.
  • Curiously, the Heels picked up several fouls on screening violations (at least four by my count). There were some curious calls throughout the game, such as an NBA-style continuation bucket in Louisville’s favor. There were also some no-calls that probably should have been whistled.
  • Cam Johnson started off hot, scoring 10 of Carolina’s first 16 on 4-for-4 shooting. He finished the half with 14 points, shooting 6-for-8. Interestingly, he didn’t score a single point in the second half.
  • It was an interesting night at the free throw line. The Heels hit their first 13 before missing five of the next six. Brooks made a pair in the closing minutes for the team to finish 16-for-21.
  • Several offensive runs helped Carolina’s cause. In the four-minute stretch from 16:36-12:34 of the first half the Heels were 9-for-10 on field goals and went from two points to 23. If you’re keeping score at home that’s 21 points in four minutes. Later in the first half, Louisville decided to play and cut 13-point Carolina lead to one in just two minutes. However, the Heels pushed the lead back to 10 over the final 5:30 leading to halftime. Finally, with Louisville hanging around and the lead down to seven late in the second half, Carolina went on an 11-0 run to push the lead out to 18 (79-61; predicated on the defensive end), which all but iced the game.
  • Johnson has now made 85 threes on the season. One more will get him into the top 10 in a single season, tied with Marcus Paige and Shammond Williams for tenth.
  • If Luke Maye pulls down one rebound tomorrow against Duke, he will have 900 for his career. The 12th Tar Heel to do so.

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

 

 

 

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the ACC Semifinals against Duke on Friday. Tip is approximately 9:00ET on ESPN (following Virginia/ Florida State).

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-70 home win over Duke on Saturday night.

Highlights:

  • Let me start by both apologizing and bragging. This final regular season edition of Quick Hitters is coming to you late, but for good reason. I watched this Carolina/Duke rivalry game from the comfort of a hospital room because my daughter, Poppy Ann Schade, was born on Friday (International Woman’s Day). In her lifetime Carolina has won an ACC Championship, is undefeated, and has never lost to Duke. Maybe she’ll be a good luck charm for the Heels in March (and April?!).

  • You probably won’t hear this on ESPN, but Carolina has now won three games in a row against Duke, four of the last five, and six of the last nine.
  • Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but the Heels have put themselves in great position for a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps they now even have a shot at playing closer to home since a one seed would likely be at Duke’s expense. There are many story lines to unfold over the next week before the brackets are revealed next Sunday.
  • The winner of the second Carolina/Duke game of the season has gone deeper in the NCAA Tournament 11 of the past 12 years. Furthermore, 11 of those 12 teams have made it to the Elite 8 or better (2014 is the lone exception in both cases). Will the same be true this year? Let’s hope so.
  • Virginia’s victory over Carolina earlier in the season ultimately came back to bite the Heels. Virginia’s victory over Louisville just prior to the Carolina/Duke game gave the Cavs at least a share of the conference title, but assured them of the one seed in the ACC Tournament. As we know, the Heels tied the Cavs for the ACC regular season championship, but received the two seed because of the head-to-head loss.
  • There are so many plays and players to talk about. Let’s start with the seniors. First up: Kenny Williams. It has been well documented that Williams has struggled with his three-point shot this season. A career 36.8 percent three-point shooter, he was shooting just 28.2 percent and was 0-for-his-last-15 heading into the Boston College game. On senior night, Williams connected on four threes (a season high) and has gone 6-for-12 in the past two games.
  • Against Duke, Williams was second on the team in scoring with 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, had three assists, one block and one steal. That would be a complete stat line for most people, but as we are all aware, there’s more from Kenny Williams. He drew four (FOUR!!) charges in the game; three of which were against Duke’s leading scorer, RJ Barrett. He also played his usual strong man-to-man defense including forcing Cam Reddish into an off-balance contested three-pointer just before half time. What a time for Kenny Williams to have his best game of his senior season.

  • The other two seniors, Luke Maye and Cam Johnson didn’t fare very well in the first half. They combined to shoot 3-for-11 and both picked up two fouls, although they did combine for 10 rebounds. The second half, however, started off with the seniors scoring 12 straight points for Carolina to turn a 40-38 halftime deficit into a 55-44 lead. Johnson finished with a double-double (14 pts / 10 reb). He now has double-doubles in back-to-back games for the first time, three in the last five games and five total on the season (all in ACC play). While Maye didn’t get a double-double, he did come within shouting distance of a triple-double, finishing with seven points, 16 rebounds, and a career-high seven assists.
  • Luke Maye now has 890 rebounds in has career. 10 more rebounds will make him just the 12th Tar Heel to reach the 900 milestone. Maye has averaged 18 rebounds over the last two games. For context, that’s the exact same number as Sean May in 2005.

  • One more note on the seniors: Typically, senior night features a walk-on or two in the starting line-up. However, the only three graduates on this years’ roster are already in the starting line-up so the typical five started the game.
  • You’ll recall that Coby White struggled in round one against Duke (nine points on 3-for-14 shooting, 1-for-6 from deep, six turnovers). Not tonight. This time around White had 21 points, four threes, three assists, three blocks, and zero turnovers. Here are some of the special accomplishments White achieved tonight: This was the first time all season he didn’t have a turnover (coming on the heels of his first non-multiple turnover ACC game). He set the Carolina freshman record for made three-pointers in a season (75), passing Rashad McCants’ 72 in 2002-03. During one stretch in the second half, White scored nine straight for Carolina. In the first half, he also had one of the more impressive drives to the basket you will ever see.

  • Midway through the second half Carolina went on an 11-0 run to grab a 75-60 lead in a game that neither team had previously lead by more than six points. However over the next six minutes, Carolina missed nine straight shots (six of which were threes) and turned the ball over twice, allowing Duke to cut the lead to 75-70.

  • It would not be a surprise to hear that blocks played a factor, because Duke is the leading shot blocking team in the country. However, it was Carolina blocks that were the story. The Heels finished with eight (tying a season high). With the Heels mired in the aforementioned scoring drought, they recorded three blocks over the final 3:38 to help preserve the lead (one each from Brooks, Maye, and Williams).
  • Garrison Brooks really struggled at the line. He hit just 2-for-8 in the first 39 minutes. But then with the game on the line and Duke fouling in the final minute to extend the game, Brooks collected himself and hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to score the Heels’ final two points of the game. Coach Williams showed great confidence in the sophomore big man to leave him in even when he knew Duke was fouling. Cam Johnson also hit both ends of a 1-and-1 just 16 seconds before Brooks.
  • Duke’s worst two field goal percentages of the season happened on Wednesday, February 20 and Saturday, March 9. Also known as the two times they played the University of North Carolina.
  • Good defensive effort from Andrew Platek to save possession and call a timeout with 7:12 left in first half. You just worry about the health and well-being of anyone who dares to use one of Coach Williams’ timeouts in the first half!
  • Zion Williamson once again didn’t play for Duke. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, Marques Bolden also hurt his knee 2:30 into the game trying to block a Garrison Brooks dunk. Javin DeLaurier filled in admirably, scoring eight points on 4-for-4 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots in 28 minutes. Thoughts go out to Bolden who, at this time, is reported as having a sprained MCL.
  • Carolina wasn’t as able to take as much advantage of Williamson’s absence this time around. The Heels led points in the paint 32 to 30. The rebounding numbers were tied at 48, however the Heels outscored the Blue Devils 22-11 on second chance points. In fact, second-chance points were responsible for Carolina’s first five points.
  • The bigger difference was outside the paint, where Carolina hit 12 threes, after connecting on just two in round one. In fact, the Heels had already surpassed those two just three-and-a-half minutes into the game.
  • You always worry about some under-the-radar player going off for Duke – in this case someone like Alex O’Connell, Jack White, or Jordan Goldwire. Carolina held those three players to four points on 1-for-10 shooting and no made threes.
  • Nassir Little scored all nine of his points in the first half. His scoring and athleticism, combined with Kenny Williams’ team-leading 12 first half points, buoyed the Tar Heels while waiting on the top three scorers (Johnson, White, Maye) to find their touch.

  • This is that weird part of the season where the Tar Heels could play as many as nine more games or as few as two. Enjoy. Every. Moment.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Senior Night Speeches:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the ACC Tournament. The Heels have a 1st & 2nd round bye and will start play on Thursday in the Quarterfinals against either Louisville, Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Boston College

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-66 road win over Boston College on Tuesday night.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy these games folks. The number of opportunities to see the 2018-19 edition of the Tar Heels is dwindling rapidly.
  • Carolina finishes 9-0 on the road in ACC play. Just the second team to do so in the 18-game conference era (starting in 2012-13). The other team to do it was Virginia, last year.
  • As far as ACC seeding goes, the Heels are still in position to finish anywhere between the one and the three seed. That will all be determined on Saturday.
  • Luke Maye keeps finding new ways to astound us. He grabbed a career high 20 rebounds tonight, to go along with 17 points, five assists, one block and two turnovers. And by the way this double-double, Maye’s 13th on the season – he had it taken care of by halftime with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

  • Meanwhile Cameron Johnson, who seems to have every incredible showing overshadowed by a teammate, turned in his own double with 22 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with five assists, one block, one steal and just one turnover.
  • Three other Tar Heels joined Maye and Johnson in scoring double figures – Coby White (11), Kenny Williams (11), Nassir Little (11). Additionally, five Tar Heels recorded three or more assists – Maye (five), Johnson (five) Williams (four), Brandon Robinson (four) and White (three).
  • Kudos to Coby White for his fewest number of turnovers in an ACC game. Before tonight, the freshman had turned the ball over multiple times in every conference match-up. However in this game he only turned the ball over once. A stat still to be achieved: Zero turnovers. White has at least one turnover in every game this season.

  • The rebounding discrepancy in this game was absurd. Carolina grabbed 60 total rebounds (20 offensive) to Boston College’s 35 for a +25 rebounding margin.
  • Carolina continues to be a sharp passing team. The Heels assisted on 10 of the first 13 made baskets and finished with 22 assists on 32 field goals. Coming into the game, Carolina was second in the country (19.3 assists per game) to only Belmont (20.1).
  • Boston College got off to a hot start behind, you guessed it, hot shooting from Ky Bowman who hit three three-pointers in the first 2:40 to put Carolina in an 11-6 hole. From that moment on, the Heels outscored Boston College 42-14 leading up to halftime.
  • Kenny Williams is off the schneid. After missing 15 straight three-point attempts, he hit two against Boston College. Williams’ ability to find his shooting stroke in March would be a huge boon to Carolina’s success in the postseason.

  • Particularly in the first half, Carolina did a good job defending without fouling. The first foul was committed with 9:47 remaining before halftime and the Heels finished those first 20 minutes with only four team fouls. While Boston College started off shooting hot (6-for-11), they were merely 3-for-26 the rest of the first half for a field goal percentage of 24.3 percent.
  • Scary moment midway through the second half. Nassir Little and Garrison Brooks fell to the court (with Brooks on top of Little) and Little screamed in obvious pain, but limped off the court under his own power. Around 5:00 of game action later he came back in and aggressively drove to the hoop and completed an alley-oop from Coby White on a baseline-out-of-bounds play. Perhaps a new phrase should be coined: the BLOB Lob.

  • The final score doesn’t indicate what a comfortable blowout this was. With 3:26 remaining and the Heels holding a 22-point lead, Roy Williams subbed in his second unit. Then with 1:29 left, Coach Williams brought in the walk-ons. All-the-while Boston College curiously kept their starters on the court. The Eagles sunk two three-pointers in the final 10 seconds of game action for the final 13-point margin.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is Senior Night (and the final regular season game of the year) on Saturday, March 9 against Duke. Tip is at 6:00 on ESPN. Make sure to stay tuned after the game for senior speeches from Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye and Kenny Williams.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Clemson

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 81-79 road win over Clemson on Saturday night.

Highlights:

  • See what happened on that last play was…well…and then…okay, so…ummm….yeah. In all seriousness, you never expect to get a favorable call on the road in an end-of-game scenario, but that’s what happened. While it seemed like perhaps Garrison Brooks fouled Clemson’s Shelton Mitchell as he drove to the bucket in the waning seconds, the refs didn’t call it, so it wasn’t a foul and Carolina won by two. Coby White made a heads’ up play on that Clemson drive to save the ensuing loose ball to Garrison Brooks, who got the ball ahead to Kenny Williams. Williams wisely threw the ball ahead to the other end of the court where the clock ran out before Clemson could recover the ball and get a shot off.
  • Yes, the clock was still running when Clemson recovered and the player got the shot off before the clock said zero. However, the clock had stopped for approximately 1.8 seconds during the scrum on the other end and Clemson’s Hail Mary was released with 0.2 remaining. So the shot wouldn’t have counted if it had gone; thusly Williams’ play was brilliant.
  • While we all care a great deal about the results of a basketball game, the more important concern on Saturday was the health of Roy Williams. Just before halftime, Coach Williams went down with one of his bouts of vertigo that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from time to time. Unfortunately, this episode wasn’t one where he just popped back up and was fine. Coach was escorted to the locker room by Doug Halverson and Eric Hoots and did not return to the court for the rest of the game. Steve Robinson filled in admirably and helped guide the Heels to victory.
  • With the win, Carolina is 8-0 on the road in ACC games. This means that a win at Boston College on Tuesday would be just the second time since the ACC expanded to 18 games in 2012-13 that a team has finished 9-0 on the road in conference play (Virginia achieved that feat last season).
  • Coby White started the game on fire. In the first eight minutes, he had 14 points including four three-pointers. He finished with a game high 28 points, to go along with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, but unfortunately five turnovers. White now has 70 threes on the season, the second-most ever by a Tar Heel freshman. Rashad McCants holds the record with 72.
  • Just another ho-hum double-double for Luke Maye (13 points, 10 rebounds), his twelfth of the year. Maye is tied for 15th all-time at Carolina with 854 rebounds and is 49th in points with 1286.
  • Clemson big man Elijah Thomas is precisely the type of player the Heels have struggled with the past two seasons. He exploded for 10 points, nine rebounds, and two assists in the first half. However, a third foul early in the second half limited his production to just three more points, two more rebounds, and one assist.
  • Welcome back Sterling Manley, now shoot two free throws with nobody standing on the lane. With 54 seconds remaining before halftime, Manley checked in for the first time since the Davidson game back on December 29 and immediately took an elbow to the face from Elijah Thomas. Thomas was assessed a Flagrant 1. Manley made one of two free throws and Cam Johnson hit a three on the ensuing possession.
  • Speaking of Cam Johnson, he scored 19 points, 18 of which came from six three-pointers (on just eight attempts). The efficient shooting brought his season percentage from deep up to a ridiculous 48.1 percent. His 78 made threes so far this season is already tied for 15th in a single season in Carolina history.
  • On the flip side of three-point shooting is Kenny Williams. He hasn’t hit from deep in four straight games and is 0-for-14 in that stretch. But as Kenny Williams does, he’s found other ways to contribute. In that same stretch he has 13 assists and just five turnovers. He has multiple drawn charges. It was Williams who huddled the team together to rally the troops and settle everyone down after Coach Williams’ vertigo episode. It was Williams who hit a couple mid-range shots down the stretch. It was Williams who grabbed Coby White to assure him after White prematurely fouled in the closing moments. It was Williams who hit three of four free throws to help seal the win. I’ll say it til I’m blue in the face: Senior. Leadership. Matters.

  • There were some interesting line-up combinations on Saturday. For a stretch in both halves, Coby White and Seventh Woods were both on the floor, seemingly in an effort to get White some off-the-ball scoring opportunities. It will be interesting to see if Coach Williams utilizes this combination more going forward.
  • Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks, and Coby White each finished the game with four fouls. Maye and Brooks played the last three minutes and change saddled with four. This is when the depth that Coach Williams develops each year becomes important. You never know when a similar scenario will happen going forward and the Heels will need to call on Brandon Huffman (& hopefully Sterling Manley) to provide some key minutes.
  • Huffman and Manley both helped down the stretch of the first half. Huffman in particular showed great tenacity on the offensive boards leading to a Nassir Little put-back and and-one.

  • To that end, 11 different players saw the court in the first half for Carolina. Keep in mind, this is with Leaky Black still on the bench in street clothes.
  • A takeaway from this game will be end-of-game awareness. After a Cam Johnson three gave Carolina a seven-point lead with 1:15 to go, Coby White turned the ball over near mid-court. So instead of a seven point lead with under one minute remaining, Clemson cut the lead to five with still more than a minute. This was not the only issue, but the one that stands out the most as causing more end-of-game pressure than was necessary. That said, the Heels did what they needed to do from the free throw line to escape with a win, including making the front end of several 1-and-1s.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the final road game of the season against Boston College on Tuesday, March 5. Tip is at 8:00ET on Raycom and WatchESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Syracuse

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 93-85 home win over Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Highlights:

  • What a three game stretch. In the span of a week, the Heels have beaten three of the top six teams in the ACC by a combined 42 points and have guaranteed themselves a top three spot in the league with still three games to play. With Duke losing tonight, the Heels have a one-game lead over the Blue Devils and a half game lead over Virginia, who has played one fewer league game.
  • If Carolina wins out, they are assured of at least sharing the regular season title. However, due to the loss to Virginia a few weeks ago, should Virginia also win out, the Heels would be the two seed in the ACC Tournament.
  • On a poor shooting night for several players (Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams and Nassir Little were a combined 10-for-39), it was the free throw line that helped put the Heels over the edge. Those same four players were a combined 22-for-25 on freebies. As a team, Carolina shot 34-for-37 (91.9 percent). This season for the Heels, that is the most made free throws, the highest percentage on free throw shooting and tied for the most attempted free throws.
  • Meanwhile, Syracuse put on a three-point shooting clinic in the first half, including five from Elijah Hughes. However, Carolina did a much better job identifying him in the second half and not only held Hughes scoreless but limited him to two shots.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Coby White is apparently back. After a couple sub-par games White turned in a career high 34 points, including 6-for-11 from beyond the arc and 10-for-10 at the free throw line.

  • A nit-pick on an otherwise incredible night for the superb freshman – White needs to cut down on turnovers. On a night where Carolina as a team only turned the ball over nine times, he was responsible for four of those. In fact, White has committed multiple turnovers in every ACC game this season and is yet to record a turnover-less game in his young college career.
  • If I’m going to nit-pick I also need to heap praise: Coby White is the only (ONLY!!) freshman in the history of North Carolina men’s basketball to record three games of 30+ points. Please stop whatever it is that you’re currently doing, re-read that statement, think about the history of it, let it sink in, and then you may continue reading Quick Hitters.
  • While Luke Maye didn’t have a great shooting night, he did record 12 rebounds (now 16th on the all-time Carolina list with 844) and dish out a career high six assists while operating from what I’ll call the “Brice-Johnson-honorary-2-3-zone soft spot” near the free throw line. He did all that while only surrendering one turnover. Kenny Williams joined him in the “I’m-not-shooting-well-tonight-so-I’ll-do-other-stuff” club, recording five assists, just one turnover and hauling in six rebounds.
  • The contributions of Maye and Williams, amongst others, led to UNC assisting on 19 of 25 made baskets. The Syracuse zone certainly boggles a lot of teams, but Coach Williams seems to always have his team prepared to carve it up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • As is also usually the case against the Orange zone, the Tar Heels enjoyed a sizable lead in the rebounding battle. Carolina outrebounded Syracuse 46-25 and finished with more offensive rebounds (18) than Syracuse had defensive rebounds (17). For frame of reference, the Heels missed a total of 37 shots and rebounded 18 of them.
  • Syracuse got off to a hot start (and truthfully played a great game), shooting 6-for-7 to build a 15-6 lead. The Heels responded with an 8-0 run over 46 seconds to cut the lead to one. After that, the game was played very closely with neither team capable of building a double-digit lead until Carolina momentarily did so with 4:32 remaining and again in the last 30 seconds of the game.

  • As you can imagine, with Carolina shooting 37 free throws, Syracuse found themselves in a good deal of foul trouble. Paschal Chukwu, the big man in the middle, picked up two quick fouls in the first half and only played a total of 18 minutes. Additionally, the Heels fouled out two Syracuse players (Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj) in the second half.
  • When Nassir Little decides to attack, he draws so many fouls. There were at least three in the first half. This version of the freakishly athletic freshman makes Carolina a very difficult team to contend with. Little did receive a pretty serious eye-poke in the closing moments of the game. Hopefully it won’t cause any lasting issues and he’ll be ready to go for Saturday’s game at Clemson.
  • Remember earlier in ACC play when Seventh Woods came in the game and didn’t play very well? It seems he’s turned a corner over the past couple weeks as Coby White has had some struggles. Tonight Woods had three assists, zero turnovers and just two points. But the two points gave Carolina a six-point lead just as Syracuse had made a run to close the gap. Two of the three assists then happened in just over the next minute of game time.

  • While the Heels lived at the free throw line, they did a good job of not fouling Syracuse in the first half. They committed only one through the first twelve minutes of game time. The free throw discrepancy in the first half was 19-for-21 for Carolina versus 2-for-5 for Syracuse.
  • The closing of halves has been important in multiple games lately. Tonight was the same. Syracuse held an eight-point lead with 90 seconds to go before halftime. Carolina cut the lead to three and even had a decent look at a three to tie at the buzzer. From there, the Heels went on a 15-3 run to start the second half and build a 58-49 lead.
  • Just because you need it in your life, here’s an absurd dunk from Caleb Ellis during tonight’s pre-game:

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Clemson on Saturday, March 2. Tip is at 6:00ET on ESPN.

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