Quick Hitters from Wednesday night’s 74-63 home win over Louisville.
I cannot stress enough what a huge win this was, for two reasons. First, with Duke losing to Syracuse earlier in the night, this win over Louisville gave the Tar Heels a two game lead in the ACC with three tough games remaining. It by no means guarantees a conference regular season title, but it sure is nice to have some breathing room. Second, Carolina has struggled with Louisville’s defense and athleticism in the two years they’ve been in the ACC.
Nearly three minutes before Tar Heels scored to start the game. Carolina opened the game shooting 2-15 with 4 turnovers in the first 6 minutes.
Stilman White played some meaningful minutes in the first half when Coach Williams put in five brand new players. He even hit a mid-range jumper that put a jolt in the Smith Center crowd.
We’ve been seeing this all season, but let’s just make sure we say it: Justin Jackson and Joel Berry take (and make) some really deep threes.
After starting off the season looking like he would set Carolina’s career and single season records for free throw percentage, Joel Berry has really “struggled” (a relative term) in conference play. He missed 2 more free throws last night. Weird.
This was the second game in a row where an opponent missed an inordinate number of shots in a certain aspect of the game. This time it was both free throws and three-pointers. Louisville’s first made free throw came with 7:41 left in the game. For the game Louisville shot 4-13 while Carolina shot 21-29 on free throws. The final three-point discrepancy was not as substantial, but Louisville didn’t hit their first three until early in the second half.
This was, unfortunately, a game marked by Isaiah Hicks foul issues. For the Tar Heels to accomplish everything they want to this year, Hicks has to stay out of foul trouble, and on the court.
Carolina missed opportunities on the offensive glass when tips didn’t fall. That said, Louisville is the one team that can really stay with Carolina on the glass and Heels doubled up the Cardinals, 16-8, on the offensive glass.
Another 20+ scoring night for Justin Jackson, in another huge game. Look out folks, this man just might bring home ACC Player of the Year.
A little too tense down the closing minutes. The Tar Heels were up 17 with just under four minutes, but took their foot off the gas too early, which allowed Louisville to cut the lead to 8. However Nate Britt then hit two free throws to push the lead back to 10 and essentially ice the game.
Quick Hitters from Wednesday night’s 97-73 road win over NC State.
Congrats to Joel Berry for becoming the third Tar Heel this year (along with Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks), and 75th ever, to score 1000 career points. With his 18 points tonight he has 1013 for his career, putting him in 73rd. place. Isaiah Hicks will join soon as the fourth this season. He needs 21 more points.
I can just hear the classic Queen lyrics – “Another one bites the dust”. We welcomed Isaiah Hicks back to the lineup tonight, but Kenny Williams suffered a right knee injury yesterday at practice and was in street clothes. Apparently he will have surgery next Tuesday. Losing the top perimeter defender hurts an already struggling defense and takes away the Heels’ scrappiest player.
It took til game 27, but we finally saw the starting line-up that we thought we would see all season long: Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks
I said all week that this game would be much closer than the 51-point blowout earlier this season, and it certainly was, but uhhhh, yeah. A 24-point ACC road win? Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
NC State started a small lineup, which allowed Isaiah Hicks to get an easy bucket over Maverick Rowan to start the game. This was a sign of things to come. Carolina led in rebounds 41-25, Carolina had more OFFENSIVE rebounds (18) than State had DEFENSIVE rebounds (16), and Carolina led points in the point 60-22. Don’t get your eyes checked. You read it right: 60-22.
I think Isaiah Hicks saved up all the fouls he’s not been committing, and poured them into the little time he spent on the court in this game (seven minutes). He picked up three first half fouls and his fourth early in the second half. While Isaiah his been doing a much better job lately staying out of foul trouble, as a senior, he’s got to be smarter. That said, I’m surprised Coach Williams brought Hicks back in the game in the first half even though the Heels had a 17-point lead. Wisely though, Coach kept him out of the rest of the game after the fourth foul. With the tweaked hamstring still on the mend, not need to push it.
I like Luke Maye more and more all the time. Some great put-backs tonight. Runs the floor well. Because of his lack of size, he’s gotta be more active and gritty and that’s exactly what he does. Maye had a career high in points (13).
Would really like to see Joel Berry start driving the ball more, rather than settling for threes. The Secondary Break had a great write-up on Berry’s up-and-down season: http://www.thesecondarybreak.us/joel-berrys-up-and-down-season/. Berry did have six assists, three steals, and only one turnover in this game, which is a great sign. The test will be Virginia on Saturday.
How many lay-ups did Theo Pinson have in this game? Goodness gracious.
Another balanced scoring night. Five different Heels (Berry, Meeks, Jackson, Maye, and Pinson) scored in double figures.
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 Sunday afternoon’s 73-71 home win against Tennessee:
Let’s get this out of the way: this was not a pretty game, but it was a win. A game in which the Tar Heels were missing two starters, shot 2-17 from 3, and shot 13-24 from the free throw line.
Since returning from Maui (Indiana, Radford, Davidson, Tennessee), the fire, intensity, and urgency that was present to that point of the season appears to be gone. Joel Berry being out for the last 2.5 games doesn’t help matters. It could get really ugly next Saturday against Kentucky if the team can’t recapture the fire they played with in Maui.
After going down 30-15 with 7:35 left in the first half, there was a steal from Nate Britt, a steal by Kenny Williams, a forced 3-second violation and, less than two minutes later (5:40), the Heels are only down 9. All keyed by defense.
After cutting the lead to 8 just before halftime (on Justin Jackson’s first two points), the Heels had the lead down to two within the first two minutes of the second half. Another run keyed by defense.
Nate Britt (similar to most of his teammates) did not shoot the ball well, but he did have FIVE steals.
Hicks and Meeks each had 3 fouls by 2:30 into the second half and were rather ineffective.. They have to dominate games for this team to accomplish the goals it wants to. Thankfully, Tony Bradley played really well.
Too many mid-range, contested jumpers. In particular from Justin Jackson, who was struggling with his shot (3-for-15 FG, 0-for-6 3P). When the shots aren’t falling you have to get the ball to the rim.
Elevator screen on two straight plays in the second half. The first time, Kenny Williams couldn’t quite get through so the usual look at a 3 wasn’t there. The second time, Tony Bradley slipped the screen for a wide-open dunk when his man anticipated the screen and overplayed it to the top side. This was a thing of beauty.
Who hit the shot to tie the game at 50? None other than Stilman White. He’s filling a similar role to what Jackson Simmons did in recent years. The less-talented, but savvy veteran who comes in and gives a few solid minutes to help settle his team.
Great end-of-game substitution by Coach Williams. He subbed out Kennedy Meeks for the longer Tony Bradley, who promptly rewarded his coach’s decision by blocking Tennessee’s last shot.
Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 95-50 home win against Radford.
Kenny Williams scored 14 of the first 18 points, including 4-4 from three-point range. He had reached his career high in points five minutes into the game. Williams finished the game with 19 points, leading the way for the Heels.
Too many offensive rebounds in the first half for Radford. In fact, Isaiah Hicks found a seat on the bench after a couple missed block-outs.
After a hot start, there was a lull between the under-8:00 and under-4:00 media timeout of the first half. A couple missed bunnies inside, an early shot clock three from Joel Berry, a turnover by Berry before crossing half court.
After beginning the scoring, Kenny Williams beat the halftime buzzer to put the Heels over 50 for the first half.
With 17:36 left in the game, Joel Berry stepped on the foot of a Radford defender while driving and went down in a heap. Thankfully this was a game where Berry didn’t need to come back in. Coach Williams said the team will take precautionary X-rays to confirm a sprain, but that he is encouraged by the current assessment.
I wrote this before Joel Berry’s injury: Seventh Woods is extremely athletic, but often looks lost when he gives Joel Berry a breather. Hopefully this stretch of games leading up to ACC play will give him a chance to settle in more.
This is a completely different team with Joel Berry out. Hopefully it’s not a long-term injury. However, if there was a good time for Berry to be out, it’s this stretch of games before ACC play.
At this point in his development as a point guard, Seventh Woods is calling his own number too much.
After shooting well on free throws for the first seven games, this is the second game in a row where the Tar Heels struggled from the line. The team was a combined 18-29 (62.1%) against Radford. The main culprits were Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley, who shot a combined 5-13 (38.5%). Taking away those two players, the rest of the team was 13-16 (81.3%)
It seemed like Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Bradley each had rather pedestrian days, yet they wound up with a combined 35 points and 23 rebounds, with all three players scoring in double-digits.