Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-74 win over Oregon in the consolation game of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday afternoon.
Big time win for Carolina to close out the Battle 4 Atlantis with a 2-1 record. Heading into the upcoming Ohio State, (at) Virginia, (at) Gonzaga gauntlet, that 2-1 record provides a lot more cushion than 1-2 would have. Additionally, this win will be a nice resume-boost come March.
Congratulations to Coach Williams (877) for passing Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp (876) for 5th place on the all-time D1 coaching victories list.
The stat that made the difference in the game: Coming into today, Carolina was hitting 60.3% (82-for-136) of their free throws, good for 324th in the country. What has been a weakness all season, turned into a strength today: The Tar Heels hit 20 of their 21 charity stripe attempts (95.2%). This number included 11-for-11 in the second half.
UNC shot 95.2% from free throw line (20 of 21) today vs Oregon. Second-highest pct. under Roy Williams (min. 20 made) and highest since making 23 of 24 (.958) in 2007 ACC championship game vs NC State in Tampa #CarolinaFamily#GoHeels
The Tar Heel bench is beginning to look like the MASH unit on the sideline for the Looney Tunes in Space Jam. The infirmary has already claimed Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, and Sterling Manley. Leaky Black sprained his foot against Michigan, and while he was able to start the game, was only able to play 8:30 (all in the first half). Garrison Brooks suffered a corneal abrasion (a surface scratch) against Michigan and had to wear what looked like shop glasses to protect his eye. Brandon Robinson suffered from Joel Berry syndrome: He stepped on a Ducks’ foot and re-tweaked his bad ankle. We await a status update on all three Tar Heels.
Garrison Brooks was able to overcome his Cyclops-like condition to play 32 minutes, score nine points (on 4-for-6 shooting), pull down 10 rebounds and block three shots. His combination inside with Armando Bacot is becoming a dominant force.
When Brandon Robinson tweaked his ankle, he immediately ran back to the locker room (2:30 into the second half) and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. However, he checked back in just 1:30 of game time later. Robinson was able to manage a career high 13 points, hit three three-pointers, dish four assists, block a shot, and grab two steals. Perhaps most importantly, Robinson played some key (and certainly painful) defensive possessions against Oregon’s dynamic point guard, Payton Pritchard. The most crucial of these possessions came with 20 seconds remaining and Carolina clinging to a three-point lead. Robinson did a marvelous job staying with Pritchard and forcing him into a deep three; however, discerning viewers caught Robinson crouching on the sideline in a great deal of pain after the possession.
Hard to believe we haven’t talked about Armando Bacot’s performance yet. Bacot, just like Brandon Robinson, set a career high with 23 points. He also had a career high six blocks. The combination of the points and his 12 rebounds (seven of which were offensive) gave Bacot his fourth double-double in five games. The big freshman was just four blocks shy of a triple-double. Most impressively Bacot, shooting just 41% on his free throws this season, hit nine out of 10. This performance at the line will be imperative for the type of inside game he plays.
Armando Bacot is the first Tar Heel with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks since Feb. 19, 1995, when sophomore Rasheed Wallace had the same line at Virginia. Those are the only two times in UNC history a player had at least 23/12/6 in a game. #CarolinaFamily#GoHeels
Carolina has struggled with three-point shooting. The team got off to an encouraging 4-for-8 start today, made by four different players (Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Justin Pierce, and Christian Keeling). Unfortunately, the Heels only hit two of their final 15 attempts and finished with a 26.1 percentage for the game.
The Tar Heels were saddled with a good deal of foul trouble. Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot, and Garrison Brooks each had four fouls while Brandon Robinson and Justin Pierce each had three. Curiously, no other Tar Heels committed a foul.
Anthony’s foul trouble, paired with Leaky Black’s injury, forced KJ Smith into playing 8:16 (by far the most game time he’s seen as a Tar Heel). Smith didn’t contribute much on the stat line, did have two assists and just one turnover. One of the assists was a beautiful drop-off to Armando Bacot for a dunk. Anthony’s fourth foul came with 10:16 remaining but Smith’s steady play allowed the freshman to stay on the bench until after the under-4:00 media timeout.
The foul trouble and injuries also created some unconventional line-ups. When KJ Smith checked in at 10:16, he was paired with Brandon Huffman, Garrison Brooks, Christian Keeling, and Brandon Robinson.
Let’s talk about the blocks. Carolina had nine IN THE FIRST HALF. They finished the game with 12. The most impressive of these was the highlight of the game when 6’3” Cole Anthony went up to reject 6’7” Shakur Juiston in transition.
The second most impressive highlight was also from Mr. Anthony. Just a minute before his block, Anthony deflected an Oregon attempted inbounds pass, chased down the loose ball, and threw down a one-handed slam in transition.
Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce both had a more dynamic first half, finishing with seven points each. However, Carolina will need the two grad transfers to put together a complete game in order to achieve this teams’ goals. Keeling and Pierce combined to shoot 0-for-9 in the second half. Keeling, in particular, looks uncomfortable or unsure of his shot. Keeling comes in with the reputation of a scorer, and will hopefully soon settle in and find his touch (and confidence).
Here’s what a senior adds: With around 13:00 minutes remaining in the game, Keeling missed a three and in the rebound action the ball rolled toward the baseline. Brandon Robinson, bad ankle and all, was able to save the ball and throw it directly to Garrison Brooks for a lay-up plus an and-one foul shot (which Brooks made).
Now seven games into the season, Carolina is still yet to hit 80 points or shoot 50% from the floor. Quite the anomaly for a Roy Williams-coached club.
The events surrounding the final media timeout of the game were quite interesting. As previously mentioned, this is when Cole Anthony checked back in. Carolina had mounted a 10 point lead which Oregon whittled down to six. The play that led to the under-4:00 media timeout was an incorrectly adjudicated out-of-bounds call which gave Oregon the ball, to go with the momentum they had already built up. This seemingly incorrect decision contributed to the closing moments becoming more tense than they otherwise might’ve been. The other curious happening during this media timeout was that someone involved in the on-court timeout entertainment apparently stole the game ball.
While they were the flashiest, Cole Anthony’s dunk and block weren’t the most important moments of his play. Saddled with four fouls, the freshman scored six of Carolina’s final eight points after Oregon cut the lead to one with 1:30 left. Most impressively, four of these points were pressure-filled one-and-one free throws. The final two points were also one-and-one free throws, completed by none other than the gritty Brandon Robinson.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Big 10 / ACC Challenge at home against Ohio State on Wednesday, December 4. Tip is at 9:30ET on ESPN.
Carolina’s next game:
vs. Ohio State (10th – AP | 4th – KenPom) 🌎 = Chapel Hill, NC (Big Ten / ACC Challenge) 🏟️ = Dean E. Smith Center 📆 = Wednesday, December 4 ⏰ = 9:30ET 📺 = ESPN 📻 = TuneIn App#CarolinaFamily
Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 76-67 win over Alabama in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Wednesday afternoon.
What a relief to see Brandon Robinson back in action. Stats aside, the most important thing Robinson brings is senior leadership; evidenced by Robinson getting in the face of superstar freshman Cole Anthony late in the game when Anthony was upset.
But let’s also not forget what Robinson will contribute statistically to this team. He scored the first points of the game on a three from the left wing. Robinson played 26 minutes, scored a career high 12 points, shot 3-for-6 from deep, had six rebounds, two assists, and just one turnover.
Brandon Robinson 12 points on 11 shots (career-best point total)
Having another reliable body in the backcourt also lowers the number of minutes necessary for other Tar Heels to play. This is particularly important in a three-games-in-three-days tournament. Cole Anthony, in particular, played a season-low 32 minutes.
With the victory, Coach Williams ties Adolph Rupp for fifth on the all-time list with 876 career victories. Congratulations to Coach!
Given the Tar Heels’ early-season offensive struggles, finding ways to steal extra possessions is imperative. One such way is rebounding. Wrap your mind around what Carolina had already accomplished coming into today’s game:
25 RPG (1st in nation)
25 D-RPG (1st in nation)
+19.5 Rebound margin (1st in nation)
00 O-RPG (T-9th in nation)
Today’s results against a similarly strong rebounding Alabama team will only grow Carolina’s advantages in those categories: 60 total rebounds, 37 defensive rebounds, 23 offensive rebounds, and +29 rebounding margin. For context, while Carolina had 23 offensive rebounds, Alabama managed just 23 DEFENSIVE rebounds.
Each starter had at least six rebounds and every player who played at least one minute had two or more rebounds.
For the first time all season, Carolina allowed a team to shoot over 40% in a half. Alabama shot 43.8% in the second half (14-32). However, Carolina still hasn’t allowed an opponent to shoot 40% for the entire game.
This defensive effort is important, because the Tar Heels have failed to reach 80 points in any game this season. Bama was the first team to break the 65-point barrier against Carolina, scoring 67.
Free throw shooting continues to be a bugaboo. Carolina shot 61.9% (13-21) for the game. The team is shooting 62.1% (72-116) on the season.
Turnovers have been another Achilles heel. The team committed 20 today. Six from Cole Anthony. Five from Garrison Brooks. During one stretch of the first six minutes of the game, the Tar Heels had four straight turnovers.
As seems to always happen, a shooter went nuts against the Heels. Alabama’s John Petty, Jr. hit five threes in the first half, accounting for 15 of his teams’ 31 points in that 20 minutes. As a team, the Crimson Tide shot 5-for-10 from deep in the second half.
Four Tar Heels scored in double-figures. Garrison Brooks tied a career high with 20, 13 for Cole Anthony, while Brandon Robinson (career high) and Armando Bacot each had 12. Leaky Black was on the door step with nine points (and added nine rebounds).
Armando Bacot secured his third straight double-double. This time he had the aforementioned 12 points (all in the second half) and grabbed a career high 15 rebounds.
UNC starting post tandem of Brooks/Bacot has combined for 30 points and 19 rebounds on 11-of-19 from the field and a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. 7 TOs (5 from SR Brooks) can improve, though.
The “tip-out” is a staple of Carolina’s offense. The Heels had four successful tip-outs today, three of which came during free throw rebounding action.
The highlight of the game came on the baseline out-of-bounds (BLOB) play immediately following the second half under-4:00 media timeout. Leaky Black set a great pick to free Garrison Brooks for a vicious one-handed alley-oop jam off the Cole Anthony inbound pass.
Andrew Platek continues to do positive things. With 5:30 left in the first half, he outran and overmatched a Crimson Tide player for an offensive rebound. He found Garrison Brooks in the lane for the bucket.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the semifinal of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Michigan on Thanksgiving Day. The Tar Heels and Wolverines play for the third time in the past three years, having split the previous two. Tip is at 1:30ET on ESPN.
Carolina’s next game:
vs. Michigan 🌎 = Paradise Island, Bahamas (Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament Semifinals) 📆 = Thursday, November 28 ⏰ = 1:30ET 📺 = ESPN 📻 = TuneIn App
Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-61 home win over Gardner-Webb on Friday night in Chapel Hill.
With the win, Coach Williams is in sole possession of 6th place on the all-time Division I wins list with 874. Next up is Adolph Rupp (5th place – 876) followed by the one-and-only Dean Smith, in 4th place with 879.
What was a tight three-point lead at half time ballooned to a 14-point lead early in the second half behind an 11-0 spurt for Carolina out of halftime. While Gardner-Webb cut the lead to as few as four in the second half, the game never felt in doubt.
Cole Anthony’s double-double streak to start his career ended tonight, but that allowed Armando Bacot to record his first truly impactful game of the season. There was concern through the week whether Bacot would be available after suffering a head injury last week against UNC-Wilmington. Not only did Bacot play, but he recorded 12 points (on an effective nine shots) and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.
While Mr. Anthony did not get a double-double, he did score 28 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. He also showed off an array of silly basketball skills that one human shouldn’t be allowed to possess. Here are some examples:
Anthony has a knack for using his hands extremely well on defense. On the second offensive possession Anthony lost the ball but got back on defense and stripped the ball away from the defender. On another play, he was beat by his man in the half-court but reached over the ball handler’s head to pin the ball against his chest and ultimately out of bounds to Carolina.
Here’s another example: It’s not often you see your shooting guard throw an alley-oop to your point guard, but such is life when Cole Anthony is your point guard. Late in the game, with the Heels on the break, Christian Keeling threw the lob to Anthony for the emphatic flush. For your viewing pleasure:
2 dunks on the year for Anthony; no Roy Williams UNC PG has ever had more than 5 in a season.
How about one more example: Cole Anthony is a very nice safety net in late shot clock situations. One instance in particular, late in the shot clock Anthony had the ball on the left wing. Everyone in the Smith Center and all the fine people watching at home knew what was coming. Yet even with two Gardner-Webb players bearing down on him, Cole Anthony buried a three.
Anthony and Bacot combined to score 40 of the 77 points (I’ll save you the trouble of pulling out your calculator – that’s more than half). You love to see that type of immediate offensive production from your freshmen. But more consistent threats will have to emerge for the Tar Heels to reach the heights they all want to reach.
You know that thing of how Carolina usually dominates on the glass? Tonight was no different. The Heels were +19 in rebounding margin with the totals sitting at 44-23.
Gardner-Webb struggled to score early in both halves. Identically so, in fact. The Runnin’ Bulldogs first points of each 20-minute segment came with 15:26 remaining.
To that end, Carolina certainly has things to work on, on the defensive side of the ball. However, Carolina has held each of its first three opponents to under 40% shooting. All six halves and all three games in total have been under 40% field goal shooting. Tallied together, Carolina’s opponents have shot 70-197 (35.5%) on field goals.
One thing is clear early on about Justin Pierce: he has taken Roy Williams’ exhortation to pound the offensive glass to heart. The graduate transfer currently leads Carolina with eight offensive rebounds.
Garrison Brooks wasn’t as productive tonight as he has been in the first couple games. He did, however, have a steady six points, six rebounds, and five assists. The numbers dip tonight can be attributed to foul trouble, which appeared to prevent Brooks from ever getting into a steady flow.
Speaking of Brooks, he apparently must have drunk some Luke-Maye-improve-your-free-throw-shooting juice. Maye showed steady growth through his career (42.9%-57.9%-62.4%-77.4%). Brooks has done the same, going from 58.7% his freshman year, to 63.9% last year, and is currently shooting 82.4% on the young season.
On a similar note, the Tar Heels were much improved tonight from the line, thanks in large part to Anthony’s 11-for-13 performance. After shooting 58.8% and 53.3% from the line in the first two games, Carolina bounced back to shoot 76% tonight.
Christian Keeling had his most productive game as a Tar Heel. He missed the first shot of the game and air-balled another three-pointer a couple minutes later. Coach Williams continues to show perseverance in the matter, running a set play for Keeling to start the second half. Keeling buried a 15-footer to start the second half scoring. Keeling scored nine, had four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal – all highs for his Carolina career. On of the assists was this great pitch-ahead to Garrison Brooks:
Oh yes, about one of those Christian Keeling blocks. With just under two minutes left in the game, Keeling chased down the play and swatted the ball from behind with authority. With Anthony and Keeling both measuring at 6’3”, it gives Carolina a nice size advantage on the perimeter. Here’s the block:
The second half was extremely foul-laden. Watching the game, it felt reminiscent of the second half of the 2017 National Championship game.
Andrew Platek needs to improve defensively in terms of keeping the dribbler in front of him. That said, he was everywhere on the court. He didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but he did contribute nine points. He got loose balls. He made solid outlet passes. He showed veteran leadership, talking to Christian Keeling after a play. Platek’s body language shows that he’s becoming more confident on court – willing and ready to take a shot (like the one that pushed the lead back to seven after Gardner-Webb had just cut it to four), drive to the basket, or rotate around on help defense.
One of the funnier moments of the game occurred with 14:40 remaining. Bacot established great post position. Leaky fed him. Turnaround right hand baby hook. Good. Coach raised his hands for a good while as if to say, “Do you see what good things happen when you get the ball inside?” The gesture was certainly not lost on the Tar Heels.
Update on “Injury Watch 2019”: Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis, and Anthony Harris are all still in street clothes. Brandon Robinson was in uniform, but isn’t expected back til around the trip to the Bahamas. Outside of Robinson, Coach Williams has said that Harris is the closest to coming back.
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Elon on Wednesday, November 20. Tip is at 8:30ET on ACC Network Extra.
Quick Hitters from Monday night’s 85-68 home win against Syracuse.
Congrats to Coach Roy Williams for his 800th career victory. 2nd fastest all time to that mark, behind only legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp. Williams did it in 1,012 games. Rupp in 972.
The Tar Heels are now exactly 1/3 of the way into the conference schedule. Despite the early loss to Georgia Tech (who, by the way, currently has a better conference record than Duke), the Heels find themselves right where they want to be. 5-1 and currently in second place in the ACC. The remaining schedule is certainly daunting, but precisely at the time of year where you want to be playing your best basketball.
At the half, Syracuse had 10 total rebounds. UNC had 13 OFFENSIVE rebounds. The final rebounding totals were 44-24, a +20 margin for the Tar Heels.
Tar Heels came out sloppy in the second half and allowed Syracuse a 12-0 run to cut the lead to three. It’s these types of lapses that need to be eliminated.
My favorite stat of the night? Isaiah Hicks had a zero in his stat line. Under the column for “fouls”. I had to look two or three times to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Well done sir.
Another stat for Isaiah Hicks tonight was 20 points. That’s the first time in his career he’s had back-to-back 20+ point games. The aggressiveness he’s shown in the past two games is encouraging.
How about one more Isaiah Hicks stat? He came into the season a career 69% free throw shooter. This year he’s hit 60-73, good for 82.2%. This will be invaluable in the close games down the stretch. No need to sub him out when the opposition is looking to foul.
Have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have Theo Pinson back? In just 14 minutes, he had seven points, five rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers.
Justin Jackson (19 pts. / 10 reb.) and Kennedy Meeks (15 pts. / 12 reb.) both recorded double-doubles in this game. Isaiah Hicks was two rebounds shy of joining them. I would imagine there haven’t been many games in the history of UNC Basketball where three players have tallied double-doubles.
Another encouraging stat: The Tar Heels only had nine turnovers in this game. This is especially impressive when you consider the opponent and the turnover problems that the team had just a few weeks ago. Interestingly, all nine turnovers were committed by just four players (Meeks, Hicks, Jackson, Berry).