Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 83-76 home-ish win over Notre Dame. Every win down the stretch, in which the Heels face a crazy gauntlet of opponents, is big. After a crazy week of college basketball, this win solidified the Heels alone in first atop the ACC at 9-2, with a whole slew of teams bunched together right behind them.
First, a note. I didn’t have the opportunity to post Quick Hitters after the Pittsburgh game, but wanted to make sure to say congrats to Kennedy Meeks for becoming just the 11th player in UNC history for amassing 900 career rebounds.
I don’t like to criticize the refs, so I won’t.
This was the second time this season the Heels have had a game delayed. Last time was the 51-point NC State blow out. This one was indeed closer, but the Heels are 2-0 in delayed games.
It was really nice to see a team come out and play man-to-man after a streak of majority zone defenses. Notre Dame did, however, sprinkle in 2-3 zone on several inbounds plays and other half-court possessions throughout the game.
After several games of lackadaisical defense, this game featured a more aggressive and locked-in defense effort from the Tar Heels. Most notably, the there was an apparent renewed effort to stop dribble penetration.
Kennedy Meeks had four rebounds before the first media timeout and finished the game with 8. He would have had more, were it not for second half foul trouble, including fouling out with 5:14 remaining in the game.
Poor FT shooting – 4-10 to start the game. Including 0-2 from Justin Jackson, 1-2 from Tony Bradley, and 3-6 from Kennedy Meeks. Joel Berry, the potential all-time leader at UNC for FT%, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 6:48 left in the game. You can’t do that against the #2 team in the nation in FT percentage. For the game, Carolina shot 17-28 (60.7%) and Notre Dame was 17-20 (85%).
This was another game in which the Heels obliterated their opponents on the boards. The margin in this game was 19 (44-25). In fact, Carolina almost had more offensive rebounds (17) than Notre Dame did defensive rebounds (18). Perhaps the best stat of the day is that all 10 players that saw time on the court day had at least one rebound.
Justin Jackson and Joel Berry a combined 1-9 from three in the first half. Started 0-8 before Jackson connected.
While Berry and Jackson were struggling, it was Kenny Williams who picked up the slack. He shot 3-4 from deep and had 11 total points. In fact, it was Williams (as per usual) who was the spark plug in this game. He had 3 assists and zero turnovers. Perhaps his best play of the day however, came with 10:35 remaining in the game. UNC was up 65-53 and Notre Dame had gained a good deal of momentum. Williams stepped into the lane and drew a charge from Steve Vasturia.
Though Joel Berry and Nate Britt didn’t score in the first half, they had 8 assists combined.
Great scoring balance. 6 different Heels scored in double figures (Jackson – 16, Hicks – 14, Berry and Bradley – 12, Meeks and Williams – 11) in a game where the team had 83.
Theo Pinson missed his 3rd game in a row, however he was out on the court before the game going through drills and looked to be in good form. This is a (hopefully) good sign for him suiting up on Thursday night against Duke. I thought his absence today might be the Tar Heels’ undoing because of Notre Dame’s desire to spread the floor and drive, which would necessitate a good deal of small ball.
Though this version of the Tar Heels are not known for their shot-blocking prowess, the team had 6 (including 3 from Tony Bradley) today.
Quick Hitters from Saturday afternoon’s 77-62 road loss to Miami
This is one of those games where you wish you could burn the tape and never speak of it again. In all reality, you could see this coming: The Tar Heels were on the road, less than 48 hours after their last game, against an athletic Miami team, and without the spark plug known as Theo Pinson. The ACC is so deep and so tough to win on the road.
Think the absence of Pinson matters? Similar to the Indiana and Kentucky games, the length and athleticism of the Miami guards really caused problems.
I’ll say this now: North Carolina does not win the ACC OR make the Final Four without a healthy Theo Pinson.
Pinson’s absence alone isn’t too much to overcome on most nights;but that, coupled with Joel Berry’s forgettable game, spelled trouble for Carolina. Berry finished with two points, zero made field goals, one rebound, and two turnovers. On the bright side, Berry did have four assists and a steal.
After 22 first half points, it was safe to say that the streak of seven straight games of scoring 85+ points was not going to extend to eight. Indeed, the Tar Heels finished with 62 points – the lowest point total of the season.
At some point in the season, for this UNC team to put it all together, there will have to be a re-dedication to the defensive tenacity shown in the first couple games of the season. Today, the Heels really struggled to guard the dribble drive. Typically, this happens down the stretch (the ’09 championship comes to mind). This team has the capability to be lights out defensively (especially with Pinson on the floor), and I would imagine we will see that tenacity come out down the wire.
It was a hot start to the game. The Heels jumped out to an 11-2 lead, including the first nine points being spread amongst four players (Berry, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Justin Jackson). However…
Miami took a timeout at 16:27 after UNC went up 11-2. They switched to a suffocating 2-3 zone and outscored Carolina 37-11 the rest of the half. This game showed the difference between when shots are falling against the zone (Virginia Tech) and when they aren’t (Georgia Tech, Miami). Since the shots were going down on Thursday night against the zone, it wasn’t a big deal. Today it was.
UNC first half FGs before Miami switched to zone (Miami timeout at 16:27): 3-5. After the switch to zone: 3-24.
More first half numbers: Carolina had more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (six). The last field goal of the half for UNC was an Isaiah Hicks lay-up with 8:39 left. The next field goal come at 17:44 of second half on a Justin Jackson three-pointer. If you’re keeping track at home that’s 10:55 of game time between field goals, which is more than 1/4th of the game.
A big question out of this game: When Berry or Jackson is off, who becomes that consistent third scorer? Neither Meeks or Hicks fulfilled that role today.
At halftime, my question was not, “Can Carolina win this game?”, but rather, “Does Carolina have the fight to get back into the game on the road?” They certainly did fight, but there just weren’t enough punches to ever get the game back into that magical single digit-range where a comeback feels possible. The classic example of this was when…
Heels had the ball, down 11, with just under two minutes to play. Kenny Williams, having a cold shooting day, should have moved the ball to Jackson for a shot or probed the defense, but missed a three. This effectively ended any hope of a comeback.
Best thing I can say is that Miami out-Carolina-d Carolina in this game. Miami won the rebounding battle 41-36, points off turnovers 14-8, points in the paint 28-22, and, most glaringly, fast break points 11-ZERO.
Quick Hitters from Thrusday night’s 91-72 home win against Virginia Tech
Joel Berry had three 3’s in the first 5:09 of the game. It was a harbinger of things to come…
As a team, the Heels were 7-12 from deep in the first 10 minutes of the game. Berry, Justin Jackson, and Kenny Williams each hit a three in the first 1:46 of the second half. All in all, it was the most made 3’s in a game this season – 14. Moreover, it was a good average – 14-30 (46.7%).
Five and a half minutes into the game, there was an entirely different lineup on the floor. Not because the starters played poorly, just because there is that much depth on the Carolina bench.
Theo Pinson did what he does – hit a 3, had a steal, and an assist in a little more than his first minute of game action. All told, Theo shot 2-2 for five points, had three rebounds (one offensive), two assists, and one steal; in only SIX MINUTES. Would have loved to have seen what his line would have been for the full game, but unfortunately…
Pinson tweaked his ankle in the first half. Was held out for precautionary measures in the second half. This makes me nervous. Short turnaround to Saturday’s game at Miami, a game in which Carolina certainly needs Pinson’s swiss army knife-ishness. UPDATE: Because I’m posting this a day late, we already know that Pinson has been declared out for the game at Miami on Saturday. No timetable for his return or official diagnosis as of yet.
VT started in an aggressive zone, but the Heels shot them out of it before the second media timeout. The Hokies apparently tried to take a page out of Georgia Tech’s upset of Carolina. The difference in this one is that the Heels shot lights out.
UNC rebounded their first three misses and never looked back on the offensive glass. 16-1 in the first half. VT did a much better job in the second half and allowed only three more offensive rebounds. Final margin was 19-4 on the offensive glass and 43-22 overall.
Big double-double from Kennedy Meeks. 15 points & 14 rebounds. In only 21 minutes. That’s efficient.
The Tar Heels have now scored 85+ points in seven straight conference games for the first time in program history.
Only seven turnovers for the game. Love seeing this number in single digits.
I beg you to forgive my tardiness in getting this published. Computer issues over the weekend and the nearest Apple Store is two hours away. Technology is awesome. Until it isn’t. Anyway, to quote the immortal Derek Zoolander, without much further ado, here are Quick hitters from Saturday’s 90-82 road win over Boston College.
While on paper, the Tar Heels should have maybe handled Boston College with more ease, as hard as road wins in the ACC have been to come by this season for all 15 teams, a win is a win. And a win keeps Carolina tied atop the ACC standings with Florida State and Notre Dame.
UNC only had six fouls in the first half, and only one of those was on Isaiah Hicks who was only whistled twice in this game. Only Kenny Williams and Tony Bradley had two fouls in the first half, but both were within the last eight minutes of the half and allowed Roy to maintain his desired substitution pattern.
Justin Jackson hit a ¾ court shot, but it was a fraction after the horn sounded to end the first half. It was beautiful. But didn’t count.
Carolina scored just 34 points in the first half on 38.7% shooting. 34 points wouldn’t be “just” for a lot of teams, but for a team averaging just shy of 90 a game, 34 is “just”. The second half was a different story – 56 points on 54.5% shooting.
Is it just meet or does Luke Maye miss a lot of point blank tip-ins? I don’t have any stats to back it up, just an observation.
This was a quietly dominant game from Kennedy Meeks and Jackson who had 20 and 22 points respectively.
There were two different occasions where Boston College beat UNC on a baseline inbounds play. Roy will not be happy about that.
Newsflash: Joel Berry is human from the free throw line. He has missed one in three of the last four games, going 10-13 (77%) in that stretch. Though he is still currently the career leader in free throw percentage, Berry has relinquished the single season lead to Shammond Williams (91.1%-89.8%). Of course, this is complete nitpicking. The man is an incredible free throw shooter.
Speaking of free throws, Isaiah Hicks is shooting 82.5% this year. He’s gone from 57.9% to 62.1% to 75.6% to this year’s 82.5% mark. If that’s not marked improvement I don’t know what is. Hicks’ number goes up to 86.5% in just ACC play and 91.1% in ACC wins (removing the Georgia Tech game).
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).
Quick Hitters from Saturday afternoon’s 96-83 home victory over Florida State.
Biggest win of the season for UNC to this point. FSU came into the game undefeated in ACC play and on a 12-game winning streak. The Tar Heels’ other three ACC victories had come against three of the four bottom teams in the conference standings, so to get a win against one of the two remaining undefeated teams is huge.
Quick start for the Heels, led by Isaiah Hicks. At the first media timeout, the Heels led 14-5. At that point, Hicks had six of the 14 points, three rebounds, one assist, and, most importantly, no fouls yet. Hicks was aggressive, taking his man off the dribble on several occasions. He eventually had 10 of UNC’s first 20 points.
Time to rejoice Tar Heel fans – Xavier Rathan-Mayes (the “Carolina Killer” as I refer to him) only scored six points!
Much more disciplined defense in this game after major issues against Wake Forest.
Tony Bradley’s absence was noticeable in the first half as the rest of the front line (Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Luke Maye) each picked up two fouls by the time there was 7:12 left in the half and Coach Williams had to continue to rotate all three guys into the game hoping that none of them would pick up their third. To their credit, none did. However, because of this…
The last 2:57 of the first half was played by a combination of Brandon Robinson (6’5”), Theo Pinson (6’6”), Justin Jackson (6’8”), Nate Britt (6’1”), Joel Berry (6’0”), and Kenny Williams (6’4”, who subbed in for Robinson with 1:21 left). This means Jackson played Center against the likes of FSU’s Michael Ojo who is 7’1”. In that span, the Heels were actually +3 in scoring.
13-21 on free throws in the first half was a bad sign, although, thankfully, FSU also missed eight free throws in the first 20 minutes. The Heels shot much better (13-16) in the second half, the Seminoles (6-12) did not.
Going back to foul problems, Hicks and Meeks both picked up their third fouls in the first four minutes of the second half. Then Justin Jackson picked up his third with 14:20. My reaction? “Uh-oh.” But Roy Williams coached a heck of a game managed the foul problems brilliantly.
Joel Berry missed another free throw. Is something wrong? Just kidding, nothing to worry about. He was 7-8 for the game and is still shooting 91.2% this season (#1 all-time for the Heels) and 85.9% for his career (also #1 all-time for the Heels)
Isaiah Hicks had one of the greatest and most athletic saves I’ve ever seen in a basketball game with 8:29 Resulted in two free throws for Joel Berry.
Theo Pinson’s first basket of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. Justin Jackson had just picked up his fourth foul with 5:53 to go. Kennedy Meeks was already on the bench with four. Xavier Rathan-Mayes made the first free throw. He missed the second, Pinson rebounded it, ran his own fast break, and then this happened:
Pinson later delivered a three to push the lead to 11 with 2:16 left. Pinson finished the game with his first career double-double (12 pts / 10 reb).
If it felt like Luke Maye was coming down with an inordinate amount of rebounds, it’s because he was – 15. Maye had never before finished with double-digit rebounds. This was a heck of a time to change that. As a team, the Heels outrebounded the monstrously tall and lengthy Seminoles 56-34. Five different players had at least six rebounds.
We’ve been waiting on that third scorer. Today it was Isaiah Hicks who had a career high 22. In fact, he, Justin Jackson (22), and Joel Berry (26) each had over 20 points.
Quick Hitters from Wednesday nights 93-87 road win against Wake Forest.
For the second game in a row, the Tar Heels were able to get the opponent’s best player (John Collins in this instance) on the bench in foul trouble early in the first half. Collins then picked up his third foul eight seconds into the second half and never really got into the rhythm of the game.
Also for the second game in a row, the Tar Heels stayed under their season average for turnovers. There were 11 total. Two specifically encouraging points: (1) No player had more than two turnovers. (2) Joel Berry, who has been uncharacteristically struggling with turnovers of late, only had one but had seven assists.
Stop the presses, JOEL BERRY MISSED A FREE THROW! Not to fear though, he’s still shooting 91.8% for the season (45-49).
There was a weird play late in the first half where Tony Bradley essentially head-butted the midsection of a Wake Forest player. Bradley walked off the court under his own power but seemed to be rather wobbly. He did not return in the second half, and will be evaluated back in Chapel Hill. His absence was noticeable on the court, particularly in a game where the other three front court players each had four fouls.
Great find from Theo Pinson right before halftime on the pitch-ahead to a wide-open Kennedy Meeks.
Pinson scores his first point of the season with 12:03 left in the second half on a free throw. The shots will start falling.
Wake Forest trimmed a 19-point lead down to one with 9:43 left in the game. The Tar Heels pushed the lead back to as many as nine, but never got the margin back to double digits. It’s extremely difficult to win on the road in the ACC.
All five starters scored in double figures.
It felt like everyone on the court made some type of winning play down the stretch, whether it was knocking down free throws in a 1-and-1 situation, hitting clutch shots, or grabbing important rebounds.
What a luxury to have Isaiah Hicks shooting so well from the free throw line that he doesn’t have to be subbed out in late game free throw situations.
Have you looked at the ACC standings? 12 of the 15 teams have at least two conferences losses already.
Quick Hitters from UNC’s 107-56 win over NC State on Sunday afternoon in the Dean Dome.
Well, what can you say about a game like this? It was lots of fun. A perfect mixture of UNC hitting on all cylinders and NC State hitting on almost no cylinders.
A crazy stat – UNC score 56 points in the first half. NC State scored 56 points in the entire game.
Perhaps the best moment in a game full of great moments: there was a huge ovation for Theo Pinson when he checked in for the first time this season with 13:47 left in the first half. There were many factors that contributed to the blowout, but excitement over having Pinson back in the line-up was certainly one of the major factors. Pinson surely has some rust, shooting 0-3 in the game. But in only 13 minutes, he had five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and zero turnovers.
The Tar Heels had two separate runs of 20-0 or more in the game. The first run was exactly 20-0 and spanned nearly six minutes of game time. NC State scored with 16:56 left in the first half to make the score 6-4 UNC. The next time NC State scored was with 11:10 left in the half and the Tar Heels now led 26-4. The second streak was a 22-0 run that spanned around five minutes of game time. The score went from 77-48 to 99-48 starting around 10 minutes left in the game til around five minutes left in the game.
Lead hit the 30-point margin when Justin Jackson hit a three-pointer to put the Heels up 43-12 (31-point margin) with 6:03 left in the first half. Translation: It took UNC 13:57 to amass a 30 point lead against an ACC opponent.
After several games of turnover problems, it was nice to see the turnovers back in check in this game. The Tar heels did have 12 for the whole game, but only four in the first half while the game was (somewhat) still in check.
Another encouraging sign? Isaiah Hicks had just one foul for the game. Of course, because of game flow, he only had to play 17 total minutes.
Part of this perfect storm was the fact that NC State’s phenomenal freshman, Dennis Smith, Jr., picked up his second foul with 16:06 remaining in the first half. Sensing the game quickly slipping away, Coach Mark Gottfried brought him back in with 13:01 left. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, he picked up his third foul three minutes later. He was able to stay on the court for almost all of the second half (19 minutes), but it really didn’t matter at that point as the game was out of reach.
A game like this is going to have some crazy stats. Here’s one: NC State had ONE assist in the first half.
10 different Tar Heels had double-digit minutes in the game and many had productive games. I’ll single out Luke Maye, who almost had a double-double, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds. Half his rebounds were on the offensive side. He hit a three. He hit a couple mid-range jumpers. Good job Luke!
The Tar Heels built a 33-point halftime lead. Often, in games like this, the struggle is to maintain and even further the lead in the second half. In this game, however, that was not the case as the final margin was 51 points.
Quick Hitters from Tuesday night’s 89-86 overtime road win against Clemson in their newly-renovated Littlejohn Coliseum.
Great first defensive possession to force a steal and a transition lay-up. Already a seemingly better start than Saturday.
This was Roy’s 796th He should reach 800 sometime in the next couple weeks.
Undoubtedly due to Saturday’s struggles against Georgia Tech’s zone, Clemson (a typically man-to-man defensive team) played sprinkled in zone several different times throughout the game. By my count, there were seven possessions when Clemson played zone. All seven came out of dead ball situations. Six of the seven resulted in Carolina shooting a three-pointer and the seventh might as well have been. The Heels were shot 4-7 on those possessions. I’ll post another blog detailing the possessions against zone.
After a dialed in start to the game, the Heels gave up back-to-back sloppy turnovers that led to fast break lay-ups for Clemson and a 13-11 lead. In fact, this was another game with many unforced and silly turnovers – 18 total turnovers to be exact. This means the Tar Heels have had 17, 20, and 18 in the last three games. Gotta value the basketball.
Good first half contributions from Brandon Robinson.
The whole team still looks a step slow. Where is the passion and fire from Maui? Where is the drive shown in Las Vegas against Kentucky?
Isaiah Hicks had two first half fouls and picked up a third within the first minute of the second half. Much of it is trouble guarding Jaron Blossomgame. We need Theo Pinson. We have to be able to play small ball against mobile and stretch 4s. Justin Jackson has the size, but not defensive prowess of Pinson.
That said, after all his foul problems, with around 1:30 to go, Isaiah Hicks and his four fouls stayed in front of Blossomgame as he tried to drive, forced him under the basket – which resulted in a turnover when Blossomgame threw a pass straight to Kenny Williams. Well done Isaiah, well done.
This was another game of many missed tip-ins and bunnies. There were lots of offensive rebounds, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t put the ball in the bucket on the second chance.
Speaking of offensive rebounds, the Tar Heels had more offensive rebounds (23) than Clemson had defensive rebounds (22).
Well, Joel Berry is back. Congratulations young man. Career high 31 points points. Career high seven made three-pointers. And all done on incredibly efficient 12-19 shooting on field goals and 7-10 on threes.
Just like in the Kentucky game, the Tar Heels could not close out a late lead. Thankfully, in this game, the team was able to pull out the victory in overtime.
Quick Hitters from Saturday’s conference opening 75-63 road loss to Georgia Tech.
Of everything you would want to see in the first conference game on the road against the presumptive worst team in the conference, this performance was the exact opposite of those things. I’m not sure just how bad the illness is that’s going around the team, but most players looked either a step slow or indifferent. The Heels looked sloppy and committed a season high 20 turnovers. In the ultra-competitive ACC, you cannot afford to lose games like this. Great teams find a way to pull out an ugly win, even on a day like today.
With Georgia Tech’s football team playing their bowl game in Jacksonville, FL at the same time as this game, a lot of the Yellow Jacket faithful were absent from McCamish Pavilion. This allowed for a lot of Tar Heels to fill the seats. This was obvious with 6 minutes left in the game when you heard a “de-fense” chant when North Carolina was on defense. After a forced shot clock violation, a “Tar – Heels” chant broke out.
Joel Berry shot five three-pointers before the first media timeout, making two of them. As a team, Carolina shot seven three-pointers in that same time span. A lot of this was coaxed from Georgia Tech’s zone defense. Despite a better three-point shooting percentage this year, this is not ideal shot selection. All told, Carolina shot 5-26 (19.2%) from deep for the game.
Speaking of Georgia Tech’s zone, this game was a great primer for playing Syracuse. The zone rendered the Carolina offense ineffective. The guards seemed content to throw the ball around the perimeter and shoot the first somewhat-open three that was available.
After the first couple possessions of the first half, Justin Jackson was absent offensively the rest of the half. He forced a couple shots to try and get going, but they were not within the rhythm of the offense. He did finish with 16 points, but it took him 17 shots to get there, including going 0-5 from three.
11 first half rebounds for Kennedy Meeks, three of which were offensive. He finished with 14.
Nate Britt was the main bright spot and provided some veteran leadership in a game that was not going well. Big baseline jumper to tie the game early in the second half. Followed by a steal and assist to Luke Maye on a fast break. Britt, who had been in a shooting slump, was the catalyst in this game for the Heels. He finished with 13 points on 5-8 shooting (3-4 from three), three rebounds, two assists, two turnovers, and five steals.
Joel Berry is clearly still not feeling well. He had eight points on 3-13 shooting (including 2-9 from deep) and committed six turnovers.
I didn’t keep track of the number, but there were a lot of missed lay-ups in this game.