Tag Archives: Brandon Robinson

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights:

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

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

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

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Duke (ACC Semifinal)

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

Highlights:

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Louisville (ACC Quarterfinal)

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

Highlights:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

 

 

 

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Boston College

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

Highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Florida State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-59 home win over Florida State on Saturday afternoon.

Highlights:

  • Hangover from Duke game? Nah. If anything, the Heels were even more focused. Perhaps they were desperate to prove that Wednesday’s result wasn’t just some aberration due to Zion Williamson’s absence. Besides, in the Roy Williams era, Carolina has never (NEVER) lost the game after the first Duke game. After today’s win the Heels are now 16-0 in those games. So what was there to worry about?
  • It might not seem like it to casual fans, but given the circumstances, this might have been the biggest win of the season. Carolina is coming off the emotions of the Duke game. FSU was on an 8 game winning streak. The stakes were high given the ACC standings and the need to keep pace with Virginia and Duke, while keeping Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Louisville at bay.
  • This is back-to-back Saturdays in which Cam Johnson had a big game coming off an ankle injury. Last week he dropped 27 on Wake Forest, including seven made threes. Today he got his second double-double of the year with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
  • By the way, is there a more underrated player in the country than Cameron Johnson? Is it because of the legend of Luke Maye? Or perhaps the hype given to freshmen Coby White and Nassir Little? Hopefully Johnson will begin to get the national attention he deserves based on the year he’s having.
  • Staying with the theme of working back from ankle injuries, Nassir Little has appeared to still be hampered by his even though he has been playing. Today, however, was a different story. Little attacked from the second he got on the court and wound up making more free throws than anyone else in the game attempted. In fact, Little had two monstrous dunks. One came in the first half when he drove and dunked over one of the Seminole behemoths inside. The other was on a put-back when nobody bothered to box out the most athletic man on the court. Little finished tied with Johnson for a game-high 18 points. Here’s both dunks:
  • Those 18 points, along with production from the rest of the bench were hugely important against a deep Florida State team. You think Roy Williams plays a lot of people? Leonard Hamilton plays a lot of people. Nine Seminoles made it to double-digits in minutes. And although the Seminoles led the bench scoring category, as expected, Carolina kept it to a respectable 33-24.
  • Against Florida State, Carolina often struggles with length and athleticism. And yet today Carolina dominated the interior numbers. After what many considered to be an aberration on Wednesday night due to the Zion Williamson absence, the Heels proved they score in the paint with anyone by leading that category 28-12 over the Seminoles. Additionally, thanks to a strong gang rebounding effort, the Heels topped that category 47-32 (including a 13-6 lead in offensive rebounds).
  • Florida State makes a habit of living at the free throw line. A big question coming into the game was, “Can Carolina stay out of foul trouble and keep the Noles off the line?” By way of answer, the Heels made 18 free throws and FSU attempted 16. Sooooo….”yes”.
  • The three point shooting got off to another sluggish start. Carolina hit two of 11 in the first half, but finished a respectable 7-for-20. Early in the season, the Heels really struggled to win games where they didn’t shoot well. This week they beat the number one and 16 teams in the country while shooting a combined 9-for-40 from three. Good for the Tar Heels. Bad for the rest of the country.
  • After these most recent two wins, the Heels are 7-3 against ranked teams this season. Importantly, after a 2-2 start in those games, Carolina has won five of the last six.

  • Coby White played a sluggish first half but came out and scored six of his 10 points early in the second half to help push the three-point halftime lead out.
  • Thanks to the results of Saturday’s other games, the top three ACC teams (Carolina, Virginia and Duke) are each 12-2 and hold a three game lead over the next closest teams in the standings. Additionally, if Carolina beats Syracuse on Tuesday, they’ll have locked up no worse than the third seed and a double bye in the ACC Tournament.
  • Thanks to yet another strong defensive showing, Carolina’s defensive efficiency is now catching up to the offense. The Heels are just one of five teams nationally in the top ten of both offensive and defensive efficiency in KenPom. They are seventh in offense and tenth in defense. The other four teams are Virginia, Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky.

  • Garrison Brooks continues to grow in his discipline as a player. In other games this season, two first half fouls would have completely taken him out of his game. Today he didn’t commit any other fouls and in fact was responsible for drawing the third fouls on both Seminole big men in the second half.
  • Brandon Robinson didn’t have a huge statistical game, but he did have an important stretch midway through the first half. He also snatched a BIG TIME rebound away from 7’4” Christ Koumadje a couple minutes later in the first half.
  • Florida State hit a three with 10:36 remaining to cut the lead to four. This was as close as the game had been since just after halftime. Over the course of the next 90 seconds Carolina went on an 8-0 run, which included two Luke Maye threes. The run extended out to 16-1 and Florida State didn’t hit another field goal until 1:57 remained in the game.

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 Syracuse on Tuesday, February 26. Tip is at 9:00ET on Raycom and WatchESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Wake Forest

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 95-57 road win over Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon.

Highlights:

 

  • There was some legitimate concern heading into this game. Saturday noon starts have not exactly yielded the best version of 2018-19 North Carolina Basketball. Would Cam Johnson’s ankle be okay? Would Nassir Little’s? Would the Tar Heels overlook Wake Forest with a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium looming on Wednesday evening? Forget all that. Carolina came out guns blazing and by the time Wake finally scored with 13:31 left in the first half the Heels were up 18-0 and went on to record the most lopsided victory (38 point margin) in the history of this rivalry.
  • As has been the case of late, this flurry to start the game was fueled on the defensive end of the court.
  • Perhaps Cam Johnson should tweak his ankle more often. He scored the first points of the game (a three-pointer, of course) and went on to hit his first eight shots (six of which were threes). Johnson finished with 27 points on an efficient 10-for-13 shooting including 7-for-10 from deep.
  • Staying with the “ankle injury” theme, Nassir Little seemed to be playing all right, although not as aggressive as usual. He did dive after a loose ball and absorb contact on multiple occasions without showing ill effect.
  • Congratulations to Luke Maye whose seven rebounds give him 805 for his career. He becomes just the 21st Tar Heel to break 800.
  • Carolina out-rebounded Wake, but only 39-36. In fact, the Deacons had more offensive rebounds than Carolina did (18-9). Granted Carolina also had 22 fewer missed shots than their opponents.
  • The Heels shot 62.3 percent (38-61) for the game; the best percentage so far this season. The previous high was 56.1 in the blowout of NC State. In the first half, Carolina shot 74.1 percent (20-27); the best percentage for one half of play this season. The previous high for one half is 64.0 percent in the second half of the Miami comeback last Saturday.
  • Although this was a game with many positives, there were two troublesome stats. The first was turnovers. Carolina finished with 15 turnovers, 11 of which came in the first half. Senior Luke Maye was responsible for five of the turnovers, four of which happened in the first 12:30 of game action.
  • The second troubling stat involved the free throw line. The Heels missed their first six shots and finished just 3-for-11.

  • Carolina is now 6-0 on the road in ACC play.
  • Thanks to this victory and Notre Dame’s loss, the worst seed Carolina can receive in the ACC Tournament is 10. If Boston College loses on Sunday, the worst possible seed changes to nine, which means the Heels will have already clinched a first round bye.
  • One of the best by-products of such a dominant victory is the rest it afforded the starters. Only one player, Cam Johnson, reached the 30 minute mark.
  • It was a good day for the reserves. Seventh Woods scored nine points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting. Brandon Robinson chipped in eight points, Brandon Huffman six, Nassir Little five, and Andrew Platek five. 14 Tar Heels played and 13 scored at least one point. Additionally, 12 recorded at least one rebound.
  • Maybe the craziest stat of the game – EIGHT different Tar Heels connected on a three-pointer.

  • Often times, when teams get out to a hot start, they get lazy and the second half gets ugly. Not true today. The Tar Heels continued to pad the lead in the second half and only turned the ball over four times.
  • This was not an eye-popping performance from Coby White (on his birthday!). However, his stat line was the exact type of balance the Tar Heels need from him – 10 points, six assists, two turnovers, five rebounds, and three steals.
  • Great fast break to stretch lead back to 28 with :30 left before halftime. Andrew Platek got what appeared to be a block (although not credited with one). Coby White picked up the loose ball and threw a long pass to Cam Johnson who found a cutting Luke Maye for the lay-up. Enjoy:

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 Duke on Wednesday, February 20. Tip is at 9:00ET on ESPN & Raycom.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 69-61 home loss to Virginia on Monday night.

Highlights:

 

  • I wrote this during the game and so I have to stick to it: Regardless of what the final result is (and you would obviously like to win), great resolve from the Heels to push back in second half and grab the lead. And what I’ll add to it now after the game: Man that’s a tough game to lose.
  • Carolina held a 55-48 lead with 7:50 remaining. From that point, Virginia outscored the Heels 21-6 for the rest of the game.
  • Granted, four of those minutes were with Cam Johnson’s ankle being tended to in the locker room. Make no mistake, his absence down the stretch allowed Virginia to exploit some defensive match-ups and hurt Carolina’s offensive attack. I’ll say it: If Johnson doesn’t miss those four minutes, Carolina wins tonight. Post-game Johnson said his ankle was actually already bothering him, so it will be important to monitor his health going forward.
  • Speaking of hurt ankles, Happy Birthday Nassir Little! Your present is a sprained ankle. With 12:06 remaining in the first half, Little stepped on Braxton Key’s foot and immediately went to the locker room. Little never even came back to the bench. With Leaky Black’s ankle injury, Sterling Manley’s continued absence, plus Little and Johnson, the Carolina depth will be tested over the coming weeks.

  • The lack of depth led to three Tar Heels (Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, Coby White) playing 36+ minutes. That fatigue appeared to play a factor in the closing minutes. However, Virginia’s Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and DeAndre Hunter all did the same with seemingly fewer ill effects. In fact, it was Guy who hit the two dagger threes for Virginia in the closing minutes.
  • I hesitate to be a “ref-blamer”, but there were several clearly inaccurate calls tonight. With 9:30 left in the first half, the refs rewarded Virginia the ball after replays showed it clearly tipping off of Cavalier Jay Huff’s fingers. At the exact same point of the second half, Virginia committed a shot-clock violation that wasn’t called. Replays showed the ball definitely in Braxton Key’s hands. There were other questionable calls, but these were the two most blatant.
  • On the other side of shot clock sadness were two calls that also went against Carolina. With two seconds remaining before halftime, Virginia’s shot clock ran out before Coby White could possess the ball for a breakaway lay-up. Then, on what would have been a miraculous shot with 3:30 remaining in the game, Coby White knocked in a three as the shot clock expired for a 62-59 lead. Unfortunately, the refs stopped the game to check this one, and it was determined the ball was still on his fingertips. At the time, it felt like the type of shot that meant Carolina was destined to win this one. Oh well. Here’s the play, followed by a second angle with a view of the shot clock:

  • This is just the sixth time all season Virginia has given up 60+ points.
  • Albeit on fewer possessions than normal, Carolina only turned the ball over eight times. This is the second lowest total of the season (six against UCLA).
  • Much better job rebounding tonight after the clunker against Miami on Saturday. Carolina out-rebounded Virginia 38-27, 16 of which were offensive. The Cavs, who admittedly don’t make much of an effort for offensive rebounds, only had three of that variety.
  • Carolina had 17 assists on 23 baskets.

  • Thanks to the mobility of Garrison Brooks, Carolina elected to switch a majority of ball screens when he was in the game. While it felt like Virginia could have exploited this possession after possession, they rarely did.
  • Virginia shot over 50 percent from three (11-for-20). It’s difficult to overcome the methodical nature of the Cavs in any game, but especially when you allow that level of field goal percentage.
  • Great hustle from Brandon Robinson on this play:

  • Tar Heel alums were everywhere. Most notably, Michael Jordan was in the house. Beyond that, players in attendance included Antawn Jamison, Billy Cunningham, Lennie Rosenbluth, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Ford, Nate Britt, George Lynch, Buzz Peterson, and likely a host of others.

  • Carolina led 11-8 early before Virginia went on a 10-0 run. The Heels kept it close most of the half although dropped behind by seven at halftime. From 40-32 early in the second half, Carolina went on an impressive 17-3 run to make the score 49-43.
  • Unfortunately, as previously stated, it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. The Heels need to take some time to get healthy and ready for the final seven game push of the regular season. So chin up Tar Heel fans, there’s still a lot of good basketball ahead.

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 Wake Forest on Saturday, February 16. Tip is at Noon ET on Raycom.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 103-82 home win on Monday night over Virginia Tech.

Highlights:

  • For those who didn’t watch the game, they will look at the box score and say, “Wow what a blow out over a top-10 team!” But as those of us who watched the game know, that would be a completely incorrect assumption. This game began nearly identically to the Louisville game. But instead of folding, the resilient Heels showed what they learned from that previous shellacking, and provided a shellacking of their own.
  • And that shellacking began on the defensive side of the ball with three reserves in the game. The under-16:00 media timeout didn’t come until 13:21 of the first half, with the Hokies leading 19-13. At that point, Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Seventh Woods all checked in. Virginia Tech hit another three for a 22-13 lead, but after that, Carolina began to chip away thanks to defensive pressure mostly provided by Woods. The Heels went on to outscore the Hokies 32-9 in the final 12:30 of the half. Here’s a prime example of turning defense into offense:
  • Virginia Tech had two separate five minute scoring droughts in the first half. Carolina scored 20 straight points during the second of those droughts and forced Virginia Tech into 12 first half turnovers.
  • Coming into the game, Carolina was fifth in the nation in scoring offense (87.3) while Virginia Tech was fifth in scoring defense (59.5). Something had to give. The Heels hit 60 to eclipse Tech’s season average with 15:31 still remaining. The 103 total points was 43.5 over the Virginia Tech season average.
  • Roy Williams has said all season what a great shooting team this is. They have shown that ability in spurts, but tonight was the night the dam broke. The Heels shot 1-for-their-first-12 from deep and it seemed that it would be another dismal shooting night. But then something happened and Carolina hit 14 of their next 18 threes and finished 16-for-34. The 16 made threes is one shy of a UNC record.
  • What a performance from Coby White. He led the team in points (27), rebounds (7), assists (6), steals (4), and blocks (1 – tied with Luke Maye).
  • Nassir Little continues to make strides. He scored a career high 23 points, including two three-pointers. This is the third game in a row in which he’s scored double digits. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. He grabbed six rebounds and had three assists. Oh, and did all of that in just 20 minutes.
  • Potentially lost in the three-point barrage: while Virginia Tech was busy hitting six of their first seven three-pointers en route to building a 22-13 lead, Garrison Brooks scored eight of those 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
  • Two of Virginia Tech’s best players, Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker both picked up three fouls in the first half. Their absence really contributed to Carolina’s ability to not only get the lead, but extend it in the first half.

  • The play that encapsulated the game: with just under 3:00 to go and Carolina up 19, Coby White dove for a loose ball, passed to Luke Maye, who found Kenny Williams, who passed back to Maye, who promptly threw a beautiful lob to Nassir Little for a dunk and his career high 23rd point. Here it is:

  • Another highlight play was Brandon Robinson’s threading of the needle to Kenny Williams with just under 10:00 remaining in the game. Robinson went down hard under the basket in the final minute of the game. Keep your eyes on his status. Thankfully, Carolina has eight days before it takes the court again.

  • Part of Carolina’s ability to climb back into the game in the first half was that they only turned the ball over four times. Nine turnovers in the second half is less appealing, but understandable given a lead of as many as 27 points.
  • Carolina came into the game third in the nation with 19.4 assists per game and dished out 25 more on 36 made baskets.
  • This might seem backwards, but what an encouraging sign that on a night when Carolina scored 103 points, the team’s leading scorer, Cam Johnson, only had eight.
  • Curiously, UNC only outrebounded Virginia Tech 35-32. The Tar Heels entered the game second in the nation with 43.89 per game while the Hokies are 320th in the nation with just 32.59 per game.
  • ESPN commentators have shown a growing disturbing habit during games of talking about anything other than the game. The “Which Williams?” segment in the middle of game action tonight was a new low.
  • Finally, this is the exuberance you love to see of five players having a great time playing together:

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game over a week away against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, January 29. Tip is at 8:00ET on RSN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Miami

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 85-76 road win on Saturday afternoon over Miami.

Highlights:

  • Don’t overlook what a big deal a 3-0 start on the road in the league is. The Heelswill have six more road games and need just two wins in those games to ensure a winning record on the road in conference.
  • Welcome back Cam Johnson’s shot. After not hitting a three for the past two games, Johnson shot 5-for-7 from deep.

  • Carolina had 26 assists on 33 made field goals. Hopefully James Harden is paying attention. Coby White contributed eight assists, Kenny Williams seven, and Brandon Robinson and Luke Maye each had four.
  • The Heels are tops in the ACC in rebound margin while Miami is dead last. It showed today with Carolina holding a 38-23 margin, including 13 offensive rebounds.
  • In a rotation change, Nassir Little was the first sub off the bench. In his second offensive possession, he corralled a rebound, got fouled and made both free throws. The next possession he found Cam Johnson for a three. The next possession he scored off a Luke Maye assist in the lane.
  • Still no Sterling Manley, for the sixth game in a row. It’s time to start wondering if he will play again this season.
  • Carolina surrendered seven threes to Miami in the first half, but held the Canes to just two in the second 20 minutes. On the flip side, after Miami cut the lead to one in the second half, the Heels hit three-pointers on four out of their next five possessions (two each from Johnson and Williams) to push lead back to eight.
  • Refs missed a shot clock violation on Miami with 11:29 left in the first half and no one seemed to react to it. From still pictures, the ball was clearly still in the shooter’s hand when the shot clock is at zero.

  • Nassir Little had a thunderous dunk driving down the lane four minutes into the second half. Take a look:
  • A balanced scoring attack today for Carolina. Five players were in double-digits led by Cam Johnson’s 22. Most encouraging was a season high 16 points for Kenny Williams, including 6-for-9 shooting and 3-for-5 from deep.
  • This was a tight game throughout, with the only double-digit lead coming for Carolina with less than a minute to go.

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 Virginia Tech on Monday, January 21. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN.

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