Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 81-53 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday night in the ACC Tournament 2nd Round.
- Tonight was a fitting end to one of the most confounding seasons in Carolina basketball history. The Heels turned in a lackluster performance, reminiscent of the Wake Forest game earlier in the season, and consequently faced their biggest deficit (30) in a season full of them. Syracuse jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
- Carolina has played Syracuse 10 times since the Orange joined the ACC. The Heels’ assist totals in those 10 games are: 25, 19, 20, 25, 22, 18, 17, 24, 22, and 13 (the lone loss). In wins, Carolina has averaged 21.3 assists per game. In the lone loss, the total was 13 assists. With that in mind, the threshold of assists we were looking for tonight was around 15. Unfortunately, Carolina only managed nine.
- After a nine game stretch in which Christian Keeling scored nine or more points in every outing, his career ends with just six points over his final three contests. In those three games he shot a combined 2-for-15, including 0-for-4 and zero points tonight. While it didn’t affect his performance in each of those three games, the ankle injury Keeling suffered yesterday certainly played a role in tonight’s scoreless effort.
- After shooting so well during Carolina’s three-game winning streak, Cole Anthony went 9-for-34 (26.5%) in his final three collegiate games. In that same span he tallied 10 assists and 16 turnovers.
- Carolina turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions and finished with 18 for the game. That number is exactly double their assist total (18 to nine) and just two shy of having as many turnovers as made baskets (18 to 20).
- Carolina has often struggled from the free throw line this season, but thankfully ended on a high note, making 11 of 13 (84.6%).
- Garrison Brooks’ streak of scoring 20 or more points ends at seven games. Brooks finished with a Carolina high 18 points tonight. The junior was in tears on the bench after checking out for the last time. You have to believe he will do everything he possibly can to ensure that next season is not a repeat of this one. Here’s an example of what we hope to see a lot of in 2020-21:
- Armando Bacot was a couple points and rebounds shy of notching his third straight double-double (eight points, seven rebounds). He finishes his freshman campaign second all-time in Carolina history for double-doubles in a freshman season (11 to Antawn Jamison’s 13 in 1995-96).
- Three point shooting had been a boon for Carolina over the last several games. Not so tonight. The Heels were 0-for-7 from deep in the first half and managed just two in the second half (one each from Black and Anthony) to finish 2-for-16.
- The Heels suffered from several mental lapses. On three separate occasions in the game, Carolina fouled a three-point shooter. Twice in the first half, Carolina goaltended balls that weren’t going anywhere near falling through the hoop (Anthony and Black). You just can’t make mental mistakes like that and expect to win.
- An early inauspicious sign for Carolina was Leaky Black and Brandon Robinson each picking up two fouls within the first four minutes of the game. Black picked up his third foul later in the first half. Unlike last night’s explosion, Robinson was never able to get on track and finished his final collegiate game scoring just four points, not hitting a three, not getting any assists, and committing four turnovers. Thankfully, Robinson has a career full of great memories, which will trump this one.
- With 6:47 remaining in the first half, Leaky Black hit two free throws to cut the Syracuse lead down to four. From there Syracuse went on a 19-2 run (including a flagrant foul on Cole Anthony) to essentially put the game out of reach. From that 21-point halftime lead, Carolina never got closer than 16 points in the second half.
- One of the few highlights of the night: With 7:15 remaining in the first half, Cole Anthony had a really nice spin move and lay-up to bring Carolina within six points of Syracuse. Unfortunately, the bad-decision making version of Anthony showed up on several occasions tonight as well. He hoisted several early shot clock threes as the game was getting out of hand, rather than working for the correct shot.
- Carolina scored 22 points in the first half. Literally none of them were outside the paint (16 points in the paint, six free throws).
- One thing I won’t miss about Cole Anthony is how often (and how demonstratively) he complains after being called for a foul. That’s just not a good way to ingratiate yourself to referees, especially when you have not yet earned the cache to do so.
- In a shock to no one, Armando Bacot twisted his ankle late in the first half. Thankfully he was able to come back out and play the second half, but clearly wasn’t up to his usual level of play.
- Syracuse just plain and simple out-hustled Carolina throughout the game. The Heels had nowhere near their usual crisp passing and effort displayed against Syracuse.
- After scoring just two first half points, Leaky Black poured in 12 in the second half for a career high 14 total points.
- Always hard to see seniors play their last game; especially those who have been a Tar Heel for four years (and contributed to a National Champion team). So first, a big thanks to Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce for coming to play their final collegiate season in Chapel Hill. It obviously didn’t turn out the way either player was hoping, but such is sports. Thanks to Robbie O’Han and Caleb Ellis for the hard work they put in to prepare the rotation regulars for games. Thanks to Shea Rush for four years of commitment and dedication to being part of this program. And finally, thanks to Brandon Robinson for a memorable Carolina career. He started out a national champion and finished with an up and down senior season, thanks in large part to the injury bug, which just would not leave the senior alone.
Roy Williams, Garrison Brooks, and Leaky Black postgame press conference:
This loss ends Carolina’s 2019-20 season since they won’t have any postseason opportunities. Stay tuned to the Tar Heel Hoops Blog throughout the offseason for updates on NBA Draft declarations, incoming freshmen, and more.
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Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-56 win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
- Thanks to a 22-point drubbing in a revenge game, we get to see the 2019-20 Tar Heels at least one more time this season.
- You’ll recall that Brandon Robinson missed the first game as he was recovering from a car accident. He made up for that absence tonight by scoring eight of Carolina’s first 12 points and finishing with 17, including five three-pointers. Robinson also chipped in six rebounds, two assists, zero turnovers, two blocks, a steal, and most importantly, senior leadership.
- Robinson was one of four Tar Heels who scored in double-figures, led by Garrison Brooks’ 20 points. Brooks now has scored 20 or more points in seven straight games. He struggled from the floor in the first half and the beginning of the second, hitting just one of his first six shots. The junior big man caught fire from that point and hit his final five shots.
- Brooks nearly single-handedly matched Virginia Tech’s free throw numbers. He shot 8-for-10 from the line while the Hokies went 10-for-11 as an entire team. As a team, Carolina did, in fact, make more free throws (19) than Tech attempted (11).
- Armando Bacot’s ankle seems to be healing well. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, his 11th double-double of the season.
- After managing just six offensive rebounds and two second chance points in the first match-up between these two teams (including both overtimes), tonight Carolina corralled 13 offensive rebounds and turned those into 15 second chance points.
- Carolina won the rebounding battle with a committee approach. Six different Tar Heels had four or more rebounds. In total, Carolina out-rebounded Tech 45-30.
- Hold the presses, this is breaking news: Carolina had two more injury concerns tonight. Just before halftime, Christian Keeling had his left ankle stepped on (and flattened) by a Hokie player. Keeling didn’t join the team on the bench after halftime but eventually came back out and even played 10:06 in the second half. Hopefully his ankle will be okay, because for Carolina to even think about winning this tournament they need all the depth they can get.
- The other potential injury issue involved Leaky Black. With 3:59 left in the game officials stopped action when it appeared Black had some sort of injury to his face. Hopefully, Leaky will be all right and able to play tomorrow. His height and distribution capability are important factors against the Syracuse zone. Tonight Black had five points, six rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers.
- Although Cole Anthony struggled some from the floor (3-for-10) and turned the ball over (four times, including the first possession of the game), he looked much more like the Cole Anthony we’ve seen recently than the version that struggled against Duke. Anthony has really embraced the fact that this is Garrison Brooks’ team. In fact, the two connected on two beautiful pick-and-roll plays that each resulted in a Brooks dunk. Anthony finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Here’s video of the pick-and-roll with Anthony and Brooks:
- Thanks in large part to Brandon Robinson, Carolina stayed hot from beyond the arc. Tonight’s 7-for-13 effort means that the Heels have made over half of their threes in two of the last three games. Over the course of the last four games, they are shooting 47.1 percent (32-for-68) on three-pointers as a team. Continuing to do so, will grant Brooks and Bacot much more space to operate inside.
- After surrendering 14 threes to the Hokies in the first meeting, Carolina gave up just 10 tonight. Interestingly, Tech made more three-pointers (10) than two-pointers (eight).
- After turning the ball over on the first two possessions of the game, Carolina surrendered just six more throughout the game. Only two of those final six occurred in the second half.
- After scoring the first four points of the game, Virginia Tech missed their next eight shots (and 10 of 11), which allowed Carolina to go on a 12-0 run (17-3 extended) and take a lead they would never relinquish.
- The big lead enabled Coach Williams to grab a little more rest for his starters than he otherwise might. No one hit the 35:00 mark. This also allowed several bench players to make bigger contributions. Andrew Platek scored Carolina’s last six points, and did so in three difference ways – one free throws, one three pointer, and one lay-up. Justin Pierce scored his four points with put-backs on back-to-back possessions.
- One of Carolina’s issues this year has been closing games. Not so tonight. The Heels pushed the lead back out to double-digits two minutes into the second half and never allowed the Hokies to cut the deficit back to single digits. Further, the lead ballooned to as much as 25 on the strength of a 13-0 run. From there, Carolina cruised to victory.
- Carolina’s biggest issue lately has not been the offense, but rather getting stops on defense. And while Virginia Tech missed some shots they might ordinarily make, they hit just 29 percent of their field goals tonight; that can’t all be attributed to just “missed shots”. The Heels also forced two separate shot clock violations. If Carolina can truly turn a corner defensively to match their offensive improvement, it could be a good week in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Roy Williams, Garrison Brooks, & Brandon Robinson postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the second round of the ACC Tournament game against Syracuse on Wednesday, March 11. Tip is at 9:00pm ET on ESPN2.
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Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-73 loss to Duke on Friday night in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
- 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 from North Carolina’s 83-70 win over Louisville on Thursday evening in the ACC Quarterfinals.
- 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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