Tag Archives: Anthony Harris

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Boston College

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 71-70 home loss to Boston College on Saturday evening.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • If there was any remaining hope for an NCAA Tournament birth, this loss was likely the last nail in that coffin. The goals now for this team are to continue to get better throughout the remaining 10 conference games, look to make an ACC Tournament run, and the hopefully play in some type of postseason tournament.
  • In the recent games that have come down to one possession at the end (Clemson, Virginia Tech, and today), the Tar Heels just haven’t been able to make a final winning play. That said, in each instance there were multiple plays and scenarios earlier in the game that could have mitigated the necessity for a game-winning shot.
  • As was much publicized over the past couple days, Cole Anthony returned to action today. He didn’t start, but did play 25 minutes. Anthony was clearly rusty coming out of the gate and out of sync with his teammates on multiple occasions. The star freshman shot a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line, had 26 total points, five rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover.
  • One question coming into the game was, “How will the starting line-up be affected by Cole Anthony’s return?” Today’s answer: “It wasn’t.” Anthony will certainly be back in the starting rotation sooner than later, but not in this first game back. Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, Brandon Robinson, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot, who have started the last several games together, did so again today.
  • Jeremiah Francis was also able to return to action today, however he played just 2:39 and only in the first half. The coaching staff is clearly taking a cautious approach to his health.
  • A Tar Heel who was not quite as fortunate today on the injury front was senior Brandon Robinson. With Carolina clinging to a one-point lead and 17 seconds remaining, Robinson fouled Jared Hamilton on a three-point shot. When the players came to the ground Robinson once again sprained his right ankle (in addition to fouling out). No determination yet on his timetable to return. P.S. So as to avoid a fine, we’ll stay away from decrying the foul call on this play:

  • Carolina got Boston College’s starting backcourt into some serious foul trouble (thanks mostly to Cole Anthony’s attacking of the rim), but could not finish the job of fouling out either player. Duke transfer Derryk Thornton, in particular, was (ahem…forgive me for the upcoming cheesy dad joke) a thorn in Carolina’s side. After he picked up his fourth foul with 10:06 left in the game, Thornton scored or assisted on 20 of Boston College’s remaining 23 points.

  • Despite a hot start to the game and another double-double (his eighth in the last nine games), what Garrison Brooks will likely remember most from this one (and be most frustrated by) is his 0-for-7 mark at the free throw line (all in the second half). While the missed free throws didn’t lose the game, it will be hard for Brooks to reconcile that making just two of those shots would have won the game.
  • Even with picking up his fourth foul with 8:32 remaining, freshman big man Armando Bacot also secured a double-double (his third in a row and fourth in the last five games), finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Bacot continued his improved free throw shooting, achieving a 7-for-8 mark.
  • Brooks and Bacot once again dominated from the tip, scoring or assisting on Carolina’s first 10 points. However, Cole Anthony checked in right around this time and took six of Carolina’s next 10 shots. Anthony will need to find a way to mix his ball-dominant style of play with the pound-the-ball-inside approach that has given Carolina success of late.
  • The Tar Heels won the rebounding battle, 42-35 and dominated the offensive glass 16 to seven. Despite that dominant advantage, Carolina held just a nine to eight lead in second chance points. The offensive rebounding advantage only translates to a full advantage when Carolina converts second chance points at a high rate.
  • Assist numbers were way down today. The Heels managed just nine on 22 made baskets. In fact, the team committed more turnovers (12) than they dished out assists (nine).
  • With Anthony and Francis back in the line-up, Carolina now has the capability to comfortably go nine-deep into the bench. Unfortunately, with Robinson’s injury and unknown return, that depth may once again be in jeopardy.
  • Sterling Manley and Anthony Harris were both on the bench in suits today. It was encouraging to get to see both players able to sit with their team during the game. Hopefully, they will be able to push each other as they work diligently on their respective recoveries from leg injuries.
  • Boston College built a ten-point lead (48-38) with 12:12 remaining in the game. Carolina responded with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to get back in the game. The game was back and forth the rest of the way, with neither team leading by more than three over the final 5:00.
  • There was an eerily similar to the end of the Clemson game feeling that took place at the 3:00 minute mark. Hanging onto a three-point lead, Carolina gave up a jumper and promptly turned the ball over on the inbounds pass. The Heels forced a missed shot but couldn’t secure the rebound and wound up surrendering another basket and the lead. At that moment there was a twinge of “Oh no, not again!” in my head. Here’s the first part of that sequence:

  • Despite not pulling out the win, there were several strong plays down the stretch. Justin Pierce had an incredible tip-in off a Cole Anthony miss. A couple of possessions later, Brandon Robinson had a nice drive and lay-up to grab a one-point lead. On the next possession, Bacot found Brooks for a lay-up plus the foul. Brooks missed the foul shot, but Carolina got the offensive rebound, resulting in two of Cole Anthony’s 14 free throws. Here’s video of the Pierce tip-in:

  • The inexperience of working a player back in reared its ugly head in the final three Tar Heel possessions. In each of those, Boston College went to a zone defense. On two of the three possessions (including the final shot), Cole Anthony took a contested late shot clock three that missed. On the other possession Cole Anthony split the defense for a runner in the lane. Not once in those three possessions did Brooks or Bacot have an opportunity to make a winning play inside. Here’s the final play:

  • Back to the drawing board. The Tar Heels have a tough week ahead of them. They face a quick turnaround in Tallahassee on Monday night against Florida State before hosting Duke in the Dean Dome on Saturday.

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 Florida State on Monday, February 3. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-77 double overtime road loss to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoH0leKhcvM

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8trkNusECtY

  • Let’s start here: you just have to feel heartbroken for the players and coaches. They are working their butts off, but to no avail (at least on the scoreboard). Given the circumstances (road game, more injuries – including your senior leader, etc.), this was probably the grittiest showing of the season for Carolina. They just couldn’t make the plays down the stretch of regulation to pull out the victory.
  • The war of attrition continues in Chapel Hill. In addition to Sterling Manley and Anthony Harris, who are out for the season, and Cole Anthony, who is still out, Brandon Robinson missed the game with stiffness in his neck relating to his recent car accident. This is now 57 games (by seven different players) missed due to injury in the first 18 games of the season.
  • The lack of depth certainly played a role tonight. Only seven players saw the court, four of whom (Garrison Brooks, Andrew Platek, Leaky Black, and Justin Pierce) played 45+ minutes. Fatigue was absolutely a factor in the outcome. Here’s Justin Pierce talking about the team “running out of gas”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PEHM1uM1II

  • The loss marks the first time in program history Carolina has lost six straight ACC games.
  • Carolina has held a double-digit lead at some point in three of their last four games, only to lose each one. The Heels held a 12 point lead with 12:57 remaining and a seven point lead with 3:35 left, but just couldn’t hang on down the stretch.
  • Despite a size advantage for Carolina, Virginia Tech was able to keep the Heels relatively in check on the glass. Carolina won the rebounding battle, but just 43-39 and only had six offensive rebounds.
  • Unfortunately, free throws once again were a major factor in the loss. Carolina shot 8-for-8 in the first half and the overtimes, but just 6-for-12 in the second half. Amongst those six misses were two misses by Justin Pierce (which fed into an 8-0 Tech run), misses on the front end of a 1-and-1 from both Garrison Brooks and Andrew Platek, and a miss from Leaky Black with 19.9 seconds remaining in regulation which would have given Carolina a three-point lead heading into Virginia Tech’s last possession. A make on any of these five free throws would have been the margin of victory.
  • An unfortunate call that went against the Heels: With 1:35 remaining in the first overtime and Carolina leading 67-65, Leaky Black deflected a pass which Andrew Platek appeared to be on the verge of corralling possession. However, one of the officials blew the play dead, ruled a kick-ball, and awarded possession to Virginia Tech. Big momentum swing. If Carolina had scored there, they lead by four or five points with likely 1:00 remaining.
  • 18 games into the season, Carolina still has not shot 50% for an entire game. The first half showed promise, with the Heels recording a 50% mark in the first half for the first time all season (51.6% on 16-for-31 shooting).
  • For all the talk of the zone Carolina played Saturday against Pitt, the Heels stayed exclusively in their staple man-to-man defense.
  • Some individual performances deserve to be highlighted. First of which is Garrison Brooks. Brooks now has double-doubles in six straight games. He led the team in points (28), rebounds (13), and assists (six). Brooks scored or assists on Carolina’s final 11 points of the first half.
  • Carolina was able to go to Brooks at will in the first half (26 points in the paint), but Virginia Tech defended the interior much more strictly in the second half (just four points in the paint).
  • Another important individual effort was the play and scoring of Justin Pierce. Pierce scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Nine of these points came on three-pointers. His shooting, along with Leaky Black’s three three-pointers, helped to fill the void missing with Brandon Robinson out.
  • Nothing flashy, but Jeremiah Francis had two assists and zero turnovers. Francis also had four points on two nice lay-ups, but also missed another in crunch time.
  • Andrew Platek continues to dish out assists. In his three starts, he has 13 assists and just three turnovers.
  • Leaky Black opened the scoring in both halves of the game by burying a three-pointer. He also had another late in regulation to push Carolina’s lead back to six. If Black or Pierce (or both!) can join Brandon Robinson in making threes, it will free up the paint for Brooks and Bacot to operate.
  • In general, the offense appeared to move with more fluidity. Passes were crisper. The ball didn’t stick in any one spot for too long. As players wore down, this changed, but this movement was certainly true for the portions of the game where Carolina built its lead.
  • The highlight of the game came just before halftime. Carolina had a baseline out of bounds play under their own basket. Garrison Brooks got just the screen he needed and Leaky Black fed him perfectly for a monster dunk, plus a foul. Brooks converted the free throw to push the Carolina lead to 36-28. Here’s the dunk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_DBv1mVHPU

  • A big aspect of the second half struggles was Armando Bacot’s foul trouble. He picked up his third foul with 12:59 remaining and Carolina up 12. Tech immediately went on an extended 11-2 run. Bacot then picked up foul number four with 9:46 remaining in regulation. His absence, in a game where Carolina dominated inside, was likely a big part of the reason the Hokies were able to claw their way back and force overtime.
  • We could re-hash a lot of the plays from the end of regulation and overtimes. Suffice it to say that the exhausted Tar Heels had a lot of empty possessions. Garrison Brooks had a good look to win the game at the buzzer of regulation, but couldn’t get the drop. On the previous possession, Virignia Tech had a 56% free throw shooter go to the line and hit both. Bacot fouled out midway through the first overtime, another dagger in Carolina’s efforts to pull out a tough-earned victory.
  • Please keep in mind: these are young men trying their very best. They are working hard, playing through pain, and doing everything they can to win basketball games. It just isn’t happening right now. Will Cole Anthony’s impending return provide any kind of spark? Hopefully so, but we wait to see.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS1-B0SShI0

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Miami on Saturday, January 25. Tip is at 12:00pm ET on ESPN2.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 73-65 home loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCNsDmhpBYI

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PJ_jTFJJiQ

  • We are now 15 games into the season and Carolina has failed to shoot 50% from the field in a single game.
  • With the win, Pitt breaks a 22 game ACC road losing streak. This was also their first victory ever in Chapel Hill (0-7 before this game).
  • In a reversal from the Georgia Tech loss on Saturday, this game had a rather promising first half. Carolina was hustling, the offense looked more efficient, and the defense held Pitt to 32.1% shooting, including just 1-for-10 from deep.
  • With the game tied at 14, Carolina took control of the first half when Xavier Johnson picked up his second foul and went to the bench. Carolina immediately went on a 13-2 scoring run to take a 27-16 led and eventually lead by as many as 14 points, before finishing the half up nine. The lead could have been bigger, but some careless turnovers (harbingers of what was to come in the second half) prevented that from becoming a reality.
  • The second half was a completely different story. It’s hard to put your finger on just one issue as the main culprit, but carelessness with the basketball is what seemed to prime the pump of Pitt’s comeback. Jeremiah Francis and Leaky Black handled the majority of the point guard duties and combined for seven of the 17 turnovers, many of which were of the live ball variety. KJ Smith also had a turnover in his three-plus minutes on the court running the point.
  • As Pitt’s confidence grew in the second half, so did their three-point shooting. The team that had just shot 1-for-10 in the first half from three suddenly went 8-for-12 (70%). That’s a better percentage from the three-point line in the second half than Carolina shot from the free throw line. Freshman Justin Champagnie led the Panther charge from deep, burying four threes over the course of just four minutes of game action.
  • While Carolina’s defense was once again struggling in the second half (the last two opponents have shot 63% and 58%), the offense was also losing its way. With no Cole Anthony to confidently run the point guard position, the offense looks discombobulated at times. The ball moves east and west around the perimeter several times before someone has to hoist a desperation three.
  • There is no question that this team struggles offensively; the statistics and advanced metrics bear out that reality. Therefore, in order to be successful, defense will have to be the calling card of this crew. Thus far, that has not been the case. Never count out Coach Williams’ ability to get his team bought in.
  • Garrison Brooks followed up his monster game against Georgia Tech with his third straight double-double and sixth straight scoring in double-figures. His tally for this game was 21 points (9-for-12 shooting), 10 rebounds, and interestingly, hit his first career three-pointer in an end-of-shot-clock situation.
  • Armando Bacot had a nice bounce back game, scoring 15 points (6-for-11 shooting), grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out four assists (although he did have four turnovers). Bacot looked more aggressive and engaged throughout the first half and the beginning part of the second.
  • The Brooks / Bacot combination carried the offensive load, scoring 36 of the team’s 65 points. This is great news for a Roy Williams-coached team. Unfortunately, there is not currently a dynamic point guard in uniform to balance the front court and back court.
  • Brandon Robinson has scored in double figures four games in a row; the longest such stretch of his career.
  • It’s clear that Coach Williams is doing anything he can to find a nuance to help his team or throw off the opponent. At the beginning of the game, Carolina was trapping every ball screen they could. The Heels secured a turnover on the first possession of the game, but didn’t have as much success afterwards.
  • In this injury-laden season, it was a nice change to get Andrew Platek back on the court. He hustled and was aggressive, apparently trying to fill the void left by Anthony Harris. Shortly after checking in for the first time, Platek had a steal and ensuing fast break lay-up. At this point, you need all the bodies you can get to field a competitive team.
  • To that end, while no one left the game, Carolina continues to have injury concerns. Brandon Robinson had medical attention more than once on the bench. Garrison Brooks took a hard fall and on another occasion landed on his elbow going for a loose ball. Jeremiah Francis appeared to be hobbling at one point and was examined by Doug Halverson on the bench.
  • Every starter committed a turnover, and four of the five had at least three.
  • Free throws continue to be an issue. Tonight the Heels shot 10-for-17 (58.8%).
  • A positive take-away: eight of the nine Tar Heels who played scored at least one point.
  • Christian Keeling’s minutes continue to dwindle. Tonight was the fewest minutes he has played all season (6:00).

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVbsyF6pwDE

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Clemson on Saturday, January 11. Tip is at 4:30ET on Regional Sports Networks.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Georgia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 96-83 home loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday evening.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Not sure why, but Carolina came out completely flat. Was it the hangover from Anthony Harris’ injury? Was the team feeling the pressure of Coach Williams passing Coach Smith in career victories? Tough to say, but the first half effort was not nearly enough to win an ACC basketball game.
  • You’ve likely heard by now, but just to make sure: add Anthony Harris to the growing list of 2019-20 Carolina casualties. Harris tore his right ACL last Monday against Yale. He participated in few enough games where he should be able to receive a medical redshirt and still have four years of eligibility ahead of him.
  • Unfortunately it’s precisely the energy Harris has brought over the course of the past several games that the Tar Heels would have benefitted from in the first half.
  • Before looking at all the messy numbers, let’s start by celebrating a few bright points. First off, Garrison Brooks. Brooks made big play after big play and was the heart and soul of the team. He had a monster offensive game, setting a new career high in scoring (35), which eclipsed his previous high by 15 points (20). Brooks made 17-of-18 free throws and brought in 11 rebounds. Here’s a look at Brooks’ game:
  • Brooks has now scored in double-digits five games in a row, the longest such stretch of his career (previous high was three in a row). On the season, Brooks has scored double-digits in 10 of Carolina’s 14 games. All due respect to Brooks, it could also be said that the fact that Garrison Brooks is the team’s leading scorer (by total points scored) is not what anyone expected coming into the season and an obvious sign of Carolina’s offensive struggles.
  • Brooks’ 17 made free throws are the most since Tyler Zeller made 20 on 2/29/12 against Maryland (the most ever by a Tar Heel in the Smith Center). Brooks also ties Tyler Hansbrough (2/10/08 vs. Clemson) for the second most free throws ever made by a Tar Heel in the Smith Center.
  • Largely on the back of Brooks’ free throw shooting, Carolina went 23-for-27 (85.2%) from the free throw line. The only game they shot better this season was against Oregon (20-for-21, 95.2%).
  • Georgia Tech applied full-court pressure from the outset. Carolina handled the pressure well and didn’t turn the ball over once against it.
  • Unfortunately, while handling the full-court pressure well, Carolina turned the ball over 15 times, including the first three possessions of the game. Christian Keeling was the main suspect (four turnovers), while Brandon Robinson and Jeremiah Francis each had three.
  • 50% field goal percentage watch: We are now 14 games into the season and Carolina has yet to shoot 50% from the field over the course of an entire game.
  • Today marked just the second time this season the Tar Heels have eclipsed 80 points. Unfortunately, they surrendered over 90 points in both of those games (Gonzaga – 94, Georgia Tech – 96).
  • Armando Bacot is in a shooting slump. Over the last five games, he is shooting 9-for-38 (23.7%) from the field.
  • Solid effort tonight from Justin Pierce. The past two games is his first time scoring double-digits in back-to-back games as a Tar Heel. He also had three assists and no turnovers.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Carolina took forever to score. The first points came at 16:04 on two Armando Bacot free throws. The first field goal came 13:10 minutes into the game. In that stretch, Carolina missed their first 15 field goals. If this feels like déjà vu, it is. The first points against Yale were also Bacot free throws and the Tar Heels missed their first seven shots.
  • Many of the missed shots were long-range two-pointers, the least efficient shot in basketball. Carolina continues to struggle to find the types of easy, in-the-rhythm-of-the-offense shots that they are accustomed to.
  • After the ice cold start, Carolina did hit seven of their last eight before halftime and four of the first five after halftime.
  • While the Tar Heels were struggling to score, Georgia Tech built leads of 8-0, 19-2, and 27-4.
  • Things got so dire in the first half, that Shea Rush, Brandon Huffman, and Robbie O’Han all saw the court in an effort to find something, anything that would work.
  • Three different Yellow Jackets picked up three first half fouls, and leading scorer Michael Devoe went on to get his fourth less than two minutes into the second half. Unfortunately, Carolina couldn’t capitalize and none of these players fouled out.
  • Down 20 at the half (the biggest deficit EVER in the Dean Dome), Carolina came out swinging and reeled off a 9-to-1 run. They eventually got the lead down to nine, and 10 or 11 on several other occasions, but could never make the next big play. Every time the Tar Heels threatened, they would take a bad shot, turn the ball over, or fail to corral the defensive rebound.
  • Additionally, while the offense probably did enough in the second half to pull out a victory, the defense was porous and mitigated all the hard work on the offensive end.

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 Pittsburgh on Wednesday, January 8. Tip is at 7:00ET on the ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Yale

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 70-67 home win over Yale on Monday night in the Smith Center.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • With the victory, Coach Roy Williams is now tied with Dean Smith for fourth all-time with 879 Division 1 victories.

  • In true Roy Williams fashion though, it was obvious post-game that all he wanted to do was get off the court to go check on Anthony Harris’ knee. Harris has been a welcome spark off the bench. He attacks the rim, plays tough man-to-man defense, and appears to elevate those around him. It was unfortunate to see his right knee buckle as he drove to the basket with 3:05 left in the game. His previous injury was to the left knee. Here’s Jeremiah Francis, who has been rehabbing with Harris, discussing the heartache of seeing his teammate go down:
  • It sounds strange to say, but this late December game against Yale was important for March. Yale is the best team in the Ivy League, so it was critical for Carolina to hold serve at home. This was a victory against a veteran and experienced Yale squad who never went away and had a shot at the buzzer to tie the game. Coach Williams will have several teachable moments from the stretch run.
  • As predicted, Jeremiah Francis started tonight, rather than KJ Smith. Joining him were usual starters Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot. One of the great strengths Francis brings is aggressive driving to the rim. When unable to find a seam, he continues to probe and look for a driving lane or a pass.
  • Just like Carolina, Yale is a strong defensive rebounding team. In fact the teams had 33 defensive rebounds each. The difference came on the offensive glass, where the Heels dominated Yale 15-to-1.
  • Carolina had just eight turnovers. In starting his first collegiate game, Francis had five assists and just two turnovers. No moment has seemed to be too big for him. In fact, he was the one standing at the free throw line down the stretch of the game. He hit a lay-up (plus the and-one foul shot), hit both ends of a one-and-one, but missed his final foul shot to give Yale the aforementioned opportunity to shoot a potential game-tying three at the buzzer.
  • An important factor in the victory: Zero of those eight turnovers came against Yale’s full court pressure. You might recall that the Heels struggled against UCLA’s pressure last Saturday. Tonight, in 10 possessions against full-court pressure, Carolina never turned the ball over.
  • The Tar Heels shot a more respectable 12-for-17 (70.6%) from the free throw line. You would love to see that number rise even higher, but anything in the seventies is a win.
  • Tar Heels have now played 13 games to open the season without shooting 50% in a single game. Tonight’s number was 36.6% (26-for-71).
  • Anthony Harris was not the only injury tonight; This team just cannot catch a break on the injury front. Andrew Platek was in street clothes thanks to an ankle injury. Christian Keeling rolled his ankle while saving a ball midway through the first half (he was thankfully able to come back). At one point in the second half, athletic trainer Doug Halverson was looking at Leaky Black while on the bench.
  • As has become custom for the 2019-20 Tar Heels, the first points of the game didn’t go on the board until nearly four minutes in (Bacot free throws at 16:17) and the first field goal after five-and-a-half minutes of game action (14:26).
  • This opening scoring drought resulted in an 11-2 lead for Yale. However, Carolina responded with an 11-0 run to take a 13-11 lead.
  • Carolina’s defensive aggression set the tone for the game. While the stats don’t reveal much (four steals and four blocks), the Tar Heels were active in passing lanes, had multiple deflections, and caused multiple shot clock violations. Unfortunately, Anthony Harris was often the one setting this aggressive tone, and pending the severity of his knee injury, will be out of commission for some time.
  • If you watch the Tar Heels closely on offense, you’ll notice that players are often hesitant to shoot. While yes, this team has struggled to score, it appears that at least part of the issue is mental. At some point, players will have to start unconsciously pulling the trigger.
  • Justin Pierce was a revelation tonight. He was active, confident, and attacked the glass and the basket. Carolina needs Justin Pierce to be this version of Justin Pierce every game. Here’s Pierce talking about his performance:
  • Pierce’s production is especially needed with Armando Bacot struggling as he did tonight. Bacot played just 16 minutes and had just two points (both from the free throw line).

  • Carolina has struggled with surrendering second half runs (19-0 vs. Michigan, 16-0 vs. Wofford, 10-0 vs. Gonzaga, 12-0 vs. UCLA). Yale looked like it would do something similar tonight, scoring the first seven points of the second half. But then Carolina went on a 17-2 run and never relinquished the lead.
  • Garrison Brooks has been the leading scorer in Cole Anthony’s absence, and while Brandon Robinson held that distinction tonight, Brooks continues to be the most consistent Tar Heel. He turned in a double-double with 11 points and rebounds.
  • Robinson was indeed the leading scorer (career high 20 points). Carolina needs someone to shoot consistently and dependably from beyond the arc and Robinson is the prime candidate for this role. He buried five three-pointers in this one.

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 Georgia Tech to kick off the main portion of the ACC conference schedule. The game is Saturday, January 4 at 6:00PM ET on the ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-64 neutral site win over UCLA on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas at the CBS Classic

Highlights:

  • A win! We’ll get to the hard-hitting analysis in a minute (yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek), but first let’s stop to celebrate the joy of winning. It wasn’t pretty. It won’t win the ESPY for “Best Game”. But it was a victory. And coming on the heels of a four game losing streak, the Tar Heels will take a win any way they can get it. Against both Gonzaga and UCLA, Carolina really competed hard. If this trend can be the new norm, these Tar Heels will win some ACC games.
  • Let’s start with a perhaps unpopular opinion: Having now seen Jeremiah Francis in action for a grand total of four collegiate games, (1) he pushes the ball better than Cole Anthony and (2) the offense appears more organized with Francis at the helm. This is no dig at Anthony, but rather an observance of the different skill set both players bring to the table.
  • In Anthony’s absence, the emergence of recently healthy freshmen Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris has been a boon for the Tar Heels. The two were vital to Carolina’s success today and are bringing a toughness quality to Carolina. More on both players…
  • Francis is showing glimpses of being able to confidently and consistently run the team from the point guard position. He was money from the free throw line today (9-for-10), including being selected to shoot the technical free throws. He made a freshman mistake with 1:45 left in the game. With Carolina ahead comfortably compared to the remaining time, Francis drove in for a lay-up rather than pulling the ball back out to re-set and run clock. In subsequent positions, Brandon Robinson demonstrated how to do this well, which Anthony Harris took a cue from and did as well on the very next possession. Those are errors you can live with because it’s a kid (who hasn’t played in two years, by the way) being aggressive.

https://twitter.com/twmarks_/status/1208483121022357505

  • Harris played just three minutes in the first half and had a memorable defensive stop right before halftime (UCLA had been driving at will and Harris walled off his mark twice on the same possession, leading to a turnover). However, he exploded in the second half, playing nearly three-quarters of the half, and was just the spark Carolina needed. Known more for his defensive acumen, Harris provided eight straight points for Carolina (a steal and lay-up, back-to-back threes) in one stretch.

https://twitter.com/FreeportKid/status/1208576714927988736

  • As the Tar Heels amassed a rather sizable lead, I thought to myself, “When was the last time the Tar Heels had a double-digit lead this season?” Great question. It was nearly a month ago, November 27 against Alabama.
  • Interesting minutes distribution. As predicted, KJ Smith got the start at point guard, but Jeremiah Francis got the starter’s minutes (28-10). Look for Francis to start for the first time when the Heels return to action at home against Yale.
  • The past two games have yielded “Gonzaga Bacot” (bad and foul-laden) and “Wofford Bacot” (also quite bad). “Oregon Bacot” is the player Coach Williams wants to see on a consistent basis. Thankfully today against UCLA, Armando was “Oregon Bacot”. After going 3-for-20 from the field in those previous two games, Armando Bacot went 5-for-7 against UCLA for 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
  • After missing the second half of the Gonzaga game, Brandon Robinson returned to action today. Robinson, Bacot and Black are all still banged up in one way or another. Hopefully the large gap before the next game (Mon., Dec. 30) will allow some ailments to heal.
  • 5 different Tar Heels scored in double-figures – Bacot (15), Harris (14), Brooks, Robinson, Francis (all had 12). This balanced attack is an encouraging sign.

https://twitter.com/UNCMBBStats/status/1208526929529171969

  • Carolina has been absolutely terrible recently at the start of the “third quarter” (first 10 minutes of the second half). Today’s version included a 12-0 UCLA scoring run to cut Carolina’s 13-point halftime lead to just one.
  • In the most un-like-Roy-Williams thing ever, the Heels were down to just one timeout with 16:07 remaining in the second half. Coach took a timeout with 18:01 remaining to stem the UCLA run. Then Garrison Brooks had to take the penultimate timeout with 16:07 because he couldn’t inbound the basketball against UCLA’s full-court pressure. Carolina struggled with UCLA’s pressure throughout the second half (that’s putting it nicely) and will certainly need to spend practice time on breaking the press.
  • Brandon Robinson hit three important three pointers in the first half. However he didn’t make another basket the rest of the game.
  • I mentioned earlier that this was an ugly game. Some numbers to prove it: UCLA had 14 first half turnovers. For the game, the teams combined for a total of 39 turnovers. The second half was plagued by so many fouls. In total, 46 fouls were called in the game. The Tar Heels put the Bruins in the bonus with 15:37 left in the game.
  • Not much to show from either grad transfer today. Neither reached double-digits in playing time and Pierce and Keeling combined to score five points. These young men will find their place on this team. It’s just taking longer than anyone hoped or expected.
  • Some old friends were in the house for this one:

https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball/status/1208499634861047808

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 Yale on Monday, December 30. Tip is at 7:00ET on ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Gonzaga

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-81 road loss to Gonzaga on Wednesday night in Spokane.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Give credit where credit is due: This is a really good Gonzaga team. They were too much for a depleted North Carolina squad, and quite frankly are better than the Tar Heels even at full strength. The environment in “The Kennel” was electric. As is often said, kudos to Coach Williams for his willingness to go play a true road game in Spokane. If nothing else, Carolina played tough and fought to stay in a game they could have easily lost by 30.
  • Leaky Black, who is considered game-to-game as he deals with a foot injury, played tonight. However the Tar Heels were dealt other blows. After a lackluster first half, Brandon Robinson missed the second half with some type of illness that kept him in the locker room after halftime. Armando Bacot committed two fouls in the first 67 seconds of the game and was essentially a non-factor.
  • KJ Smith once again started for Cole Anthony, and was serviceable, but the real revelation has been Jeremiah Francis. How does someone not play for two years with knee issues and then suddenly come out like a wrecking ball? Francis played 22 minutes, scored 11 points, shot 2-for-3 from deep, had two steals, and perhaps most importantly, had three assists and zero turnovers.

  • Another Tar Heel coming back from a knee injury, Anthony Harris had a nice game. He had eight points on efficient shooting numbers and had a nice steal at the free throw line.
  • Perhaps Christian Keeling has finally turned a corner. He scored in double digits for the first time as a Tar Heel (12), and did so on 5-for-7 shooting, while also grabbing some rebounds (3) and dishing a couple assists (2).
  • The other grad transfer, Justin Pierce rebounded from scoreless outings against Virginia and Wofford to score seven points.
  • The best Tar Heel tonight was Garrison Brooks. In 31 minutes, Brooks scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, had three assists, two steals, and just one turnover. Brooks needs to continue delivering these type of performances.
  • For the first time all season, the Tar Heels scored 80 or more points (81). Granted, the second half of this game didn’t feature much stellar defense and Carolina still didn’t look like a great shooting team.
  • Carolina’s bench nearly doubled their previous season high scoring number. Carolina had 28 against UNC-Wilmington thanks in large part to Justin Pierce’s 18. Tonight, the Heels scored 53, contributed to by eight different players. As further evidence of tonight’s bench usage, 10 different Tar Heels played 10 or more minutes, while 12 played five or more. Keep in mind, these numbers coming with a dwindling roster.
  • Carolina’s defense struggled mightily tonight against KenPom’s number one rated team in adjusted offensive efficiency. Corey Kispert shot 10-for-12 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from three, for 26 points.
  • As a team, Gonzaga shot 72.0% on field goals in the second half. During one stretch, the Bulldogs hit 11 straight field goals without a miss. Those numbers are simply unacceptable.
  • For large portions of the game, the offense looked absolutely discombobulated. This is likely a function of weird combinations of players who have spent little to no time functioning together as a five-person unit. To get an idea of the issues, watch the spacing between the players on the floor Saturday when Carolina plays UCLA.
  • An example of the strange line-up combinations. From 2:59-1:07 of the first half, Carolina sported a line-up consisting of Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, and Justin Pierce (with KJ Smith eventually coming in for Francis). Who is the center in that combination?
  • After starting the season 3-for-19 (15.8%) from three, Andrew Platek has hit four of his last five. Coach Williams has spoken about his quality shooting in practice, so hopefully the fruit of that will start showing up in games.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a the CBS Sports Classic against UCLA on Saturday, December 21. Tip is at 3:00ET on CBS.

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Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Wofford

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 68-64 home loss to Wofford on Sunday afternoon in Carmichael Arena.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

This will probably be as painful to read as it was to write. Such is the stretch the Tar Heels are going through right now. Here we go:

  • The hits just keep on coming. This team cannot catch a break on the injury front. Just as one or two players get back on the court, another couple of players are out. Before the game this afternoon, Carolina announced that Cole Anthony would miss the game with a knee injury, Leaky Black would miss the game with a foot injury, and that Sterling Manley would be done for the season after undergoing surgery. Throughout the game, several other players spent time being evaluated by athletic trainer Doug Halverson (Brandon Robinson, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks, KJ Smith).
  • The news for Cole Anthony is that he is out indefinitely with a knee injury, which will be further evaluated this week. Leaky Black is game-to-game with the foot sprain he’s been dealing with. As far Sterling Manley, he had season-ending surgery on December 12 to repair cartilage in his left knee. The timetable for his return is unknown. Tough blow for Manley who has been plagued by lower body injuries.
  • The silver lining with Cole Anthony out is that you can say with assurance that the Tar Heels will not be able to fall into the trap of waiting around for him to bail the team out offensively. Six different Tar Heels scored at least six points today.
  • Given the new injuries, can you imagine what the line-ups would have been today if Armando Bacot’s ankle injury had been worse or if Jeremiah Francis and/or Anthony Harris were still out of commission?
  • Free throws proved to be a major issue again today. In a game Carolina lost by four, they shot 12-for-20 (60.0%) from the free throw line.
  • The Tar Heels did rebound well. They grabbed 51 to Wofford’s 34. However, given their inside advantage, the points in the point should have favored Carolina more than 28-20. The Heels got the ball to Brooks and Bacot quite a bit, but the ball should have gone into the paint on literally every possession. When it did, Brooks shot an extremely efficient 8-for-10. Bacot, however, struggled; shooting just 2-for-14. These interior struggles took place even with Chevez Goodwin, Wofford’s main interior player, attached to the bench with foul trouble for the majority of the game.
  • It can’t be said enough what joy it must bring Jeremiah Francis (in particular) and Anthony Harris to be back in basketball action. Both players have missed significant time and have worked extremely hard to get back on the court. Francis showed glimpses of the dynamic point guard he can be as he gets healthy. He pushed the ball and quite consistently found teammates. Depending on Anthony and Black’s availability, the two freshmen will likely continue to shoulder as much time as they can handle.
  • With the starting and back-up point guards both sidelined, KJ Smith took hold of the reins and played a steady game. He scored seven points and had four assists, against two turnovers. While Smith is admittedly not the playmaker that Anthony is, the most important thing he did today was to stay within himself and not try to do more than he was capable of. Here’s Smith talking about the opportunity to start at point guard for Carolina on the same court where his own dad was the last Tar Heel to do so in a regular season game:
  • Carolina, who historically assists on a high percentage of made baskets, has not done so to this point in the season. For the game, the Heels assisted on 17 of 23 made baskets. While the outcome of the game was not what Coach Williams was looking for, sharing the ball more consistently is a step in the right direction.
  • We are now 10 games into the season without Carolina shooting 50% for the game or reaching the 80-point plateau.
  • In both halves, the Heels took awhile to score. At the beginning of the game, the first points came on a Brandon Robinson three-pointer after 2:15 had already come of the clock. The post-halftime drought was even longer, clocking in at around 3:00.
  • An encouraging sign: Andrew Platek shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
  • Christian Keeling had arguably his most productive game as a Tar Heel, finishing with eight points, nine rebounds, and two assists. Keeling could have had 10 points, but stepped on the three-point line on two different occasions. The different of those couple inches makes this a one-possession game down the stretch instead of two possessions. Details matter.
  • On the flip side, Justin Pierce, the other graduate transfer, did not attempt a single field goal. The one shot he did take was a free throw attempt, which was an air ball. For the Tar Heels to sniff success, both Pierce and Keeling will have to become consistent offensive contributors.
  • The stretch that ultimately killed Carolina was Wofford’s 16-0 second half run to take a 55-42 lead. Led by Brandon Robinson the Heels mounted a strong comeback, but fell short due to turnovers and a lack of shot making.
  • You would obviously like to walk away as the victors, but what a neat opportunity to play a regular season home game back in Carmichael, the setting for so many huge Carolina memories in seasons gone by.

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 Gonzaga on Wednesday, December 18. Tip is at 9:00ET on ESPN2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Virginia

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 56-47 road loss to Virginia on Sunday afternoon in Charlottesville.

DISCLAIMER: I know you’re ready to freak out. Carolina has lost three of four. They haven’t looked good or in sync while doing so. The injuries seem to be torpedoing this season’s chances. But hear this: Patience, friend, patience. It’s December. This team is trying to work in a lot of new players. This team is trying to get players back from injury and integrate them. This team is trying to find offensive flow. This team is trying to find shooters. All I can say to remind you to be patient is this: There’s a man at the helm of this program that always finds a way. There’s a man at the helm of this program who is currently fifth all time in Division 1 coaching wins. There’s a man at the helm of this program who is already in the Hall of Fame. You don’t achieve these heights without a couple seasons of bringing together a young squad for the good of the name on the front of the jersey. Patience.

Highlights:

Condensed Game:

 

  • Let’s start with some happy things, shall we? Armando Bacot, who appeared to quite severely sprain his ankle against Ohio State on Wednesday and was expected to be out “indefinitely”, was able to not only play, but start against Virginia. No clue how this happened, but his presence was a welcome return. Here’s Bacot talking about how he was able to get back on the court so quickly:
  • In the same vein of comebacks, two Tar Heel freshmen returned from injury to play their first collegiate minutes. Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris, both of whom suffered knee injuries in high school, were able to play (and score) after being cleared. If either, or both, are able to provide backcourt depth and/or the opportunity for Cole Anthony to move off the ball from time-to-time, it will be a big boon.
  • The final piece of good news for this space is that the back-to-back games against the top-two defensive rated teams in the country are now behind us.
  • Of course, against those two teams, Carolina managed to eclipse 50 points exactly zero times. In the Roy Williams era, these have been just the seventh and eighth games in which the Tar Heels have scored under 50. As you can imagine, this is the first time in that period that sub-50 point games have happened back-to-back. Interestingly, all eight sub-50 points have happened since the 2010-11 season.
    • Virginia | 47 | 2019-20
    • Ohio State | 49 | 2019-20
    • Michigan State | 45 | 2017-18
    • Virginia | 49 | 2017-18
    • Virginia | 43 | 2016-17
    • NC State | 46 | 2014-15
    • Syracuse | 45 | 2013-14
    • Boston College | 48 | 2010-11
  • I’m just going to start hitting you with ugly numbers. Ready?
    • The teams combined for 0 (ZERO!) first half fast break points.
    • Carolina had one assist in the first half.
    • Both teams had more turnovers than made field goals in the first half (Carolina 6-5, Virginia 8-5).
    • With 5:49 left in the first half, only one player on either team had multiple made field goals.
    • For the game, Cole Anthony had zero assists and six turnovers. In truth, this is pretty typical for a freshman point guard playing their first game at Virginia.
    • Carolina hit their first (and only) three-pointer of the game with 17:30 remaining in the second half. The Heels shot 1-for-14 on threes for the game (7.1%).
  • The Tar Heels fouled three-point shooters on three different occasions. Truthfully, even doing this one time in a game is unacceptable.
  • The free throw woes continue. Heels shot 12-for-22 today (54.5%).
  • For the second game in a row, the Tar Heels were out-rebounded (this time 37-32).
  • As the season goes along, one of the big keys to Carolina finding success is production from the grad transfers, Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce. Today, Keeling, a known scorer, took zero shots (ZERO!). Pierce shot 0-for-4 from the field. A “zero” in the points column is unacceptable from these two.
  • Both of these teams are inept offensively at this point in their development. The teams combined for two points in the first five minutes of the game and 11 points in the first 10 minutes. Virginia’s first field goal came with 12:48 left in the first half. Carolina didn’t hit double-digit points until 15:00 into the game and had just 18 at the half.
  • The second half started with a veritable offensive explosion – Carolina scored 11 points in the first 4:00. However, the Tar Heels managed just 18 more points over the final 16 minutes.

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 Wofford on Sunday, December 15. Tip is at 4:00ET on the ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Ohio State (ACC / Big 10 Challenge)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-49 home loss to Ohio State on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • This game ranks as arguably one of the most lifeless performances I’ve ever witnessed from a University of North Carolina men’s basketball team. However, many factors played into tonight’s debacle. Hope is not lost. Lots of opportunity is still ahead. Coach Williams put the loss in perspective in his post-game remarks: “I’ve had my butt beat before and it’ll be beat again. I’ll live to face another day.”
  • For statistical proof of the prior statement: The Heels have not hit 50% of their shots in a game this season. They barely achieved half of that tonight – 27.4% (17-62). In fact, this was the 2nd lowest single game field goal percentage of the Roy Williams era. Only the loss to Michigan State at the PK80 on 11/26/2017 was lower (24.6% – 15-for-61).
  • Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris were in uniform and both warmed up. Still no Sterling Manley though; he remains in a suit on the sideline.
  • Coming into the game there were questions about the availability of several Tar Heels due to injury. You don’t want to make excuses, however it’s tough to win when this is what Coach Williams sees when he looks down the bench: Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis, and Anthony Harris not ready for game action. Leaky Black can play but still has foot issues. Brandon Robinson’s ankle is still bothering him. Garrison Brooks is a Cyclops. Cole Anthony played but is sick, has ankle issues, and he took an elbow to the head that drew a good deal of blood. Not to mention Armando Bacot, the most imposing interior player, was done for the game after landing on an Ohio State player’s foot in the first half (Post-game, Coach Williams confirmed that he has a sprained ankle and “may be out for awhile”).
  • Speaking of Bacot, we can’t assume that his presence would have changed the outcome of the game. It is however, safe to say that Bacot would have at least made the game more competitive. The freshman big man, coming off his best game of the season, had two points, four rebounds, a block, and a steal in the seven minutes he did play. Here are players speaking about how Bacot’s absence affects the team:
  • For the first time all season, Carolina was out rebounded. And it wasn’t even close. Ohio State hauled in 48 to UNC’s 32.
  • For the eighth game in a row, Carolina could not crack 80 points. In fact, they couldn’t even get to 50. Here’s Justin Pierce talking about the offensive issues:
  • After shooting lights out from the free throw line against Oregon (20-for-21), the Tar Heels were back down around their season average. Tonight they hit 8-for-13 (61.5%).
  • Tonight was the first of back-to-back games against the top-two rated defensive teams in KenPom rankings. Unfortunately Ohio State is #2 and the upcoming opponent, Virginia, is rated #1. Could be another ugly offensive performance ahead for the Tar Heels, who will almost certainly be without Bacot again.
  • For those who only saw the final result, the beginning of the game was a different story: The Tar Heels forced three Buckeye turnovers on their first three possessions. Meanwhile, Carolina ran efficient offense to get Brooks an interior bucket and Leaky Black a three on the first two offensive possessions, culminating in a 5-0 lead.
  • However, as often happens against Carolina, Ohio State’s first four made baskets were three-pointers. This opened up a 12-8 lead for the Buckeyes with 14:22 remaining in the first half. Tar Heels never led again.
  • We did witness a first in this game: Garrison Brooks’ first career three-point attempt. With the shot clock winding down within the first two minutes of the game, Brooks had to hoist a three. His form didn’t look bad, but the shot didn’t go in.
  • In the second half, with the regular rotation giving lackluster effort, Coach Williams went with a classic five-for-five substitution. This switch came with 10:42 remaining and the starters didn’t come back until more than four minutes later (6:37). The bench players actually outscored Ohio State 8-6 in this time frame, including five points and a block from Justin Pierce and drawn charges from both Walker Miller and KJ Smith. Things didn’t go much better when the starters came back and Coach Williams waved the white flag with 3:02 left in the game. Here’s Shea Rush talking about the marching orders the reserves received from Coach Williams:
  • Christian Keeling is struggling to find his shooting touch. Hard to determine at this point whether he is overmatched at the high major level or if he is still trying to settle in. Whatever the case, he and Justin Pierce are the wild cards that will make or break the 2019-20 season.
  • Quite honestly, with everything that went wrong in the first half, it was quite impressive that Carolina was only down two at the break. But the Tar Heels were hanging by a thread and Ohio State was able to blow the game wide open after regrouping at halftime.
  • This is quite an obvious statement, but Carolina has to hope that Bacot is not out very long. When Garrison Brooks went to the bench with two fouls and 7:00 still remaining in the first half, Coach Williams had no choice but to rely on Brandon Huffman and, in the second half, Walker Miller as well. Both are nice stop-gaps to have on the bench in a pinch, but neither will be able to provide long term meaningful minutes.

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 Virginia on Sunday, December 8. Tip is at 4:00ET on ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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