Tag Archives: Leaky Black

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Iona (NCAA Tournament – 1st Round)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-73 win over Iona on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Highlights:

  • With Luke Maye’s 16 points tonight, three different Tar Heels have scored 500 points this year (Cam Johnson – 580, Coby White – 530, Maye – 502). That’s happened seven previous times in program history. Those seasons each worked out pretty well: 3 National Championships (1992-93, 2008-09, 2016-17), 1 National Runner-Up (1980-81), 2 Final Fours (1994-95, 1997-98), and 1 Elite Eight (1986-87).
  • Roy Williams is now 29-0 all-time in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament.

  • Cam Johnson has made 91 three-pointers this season. He is just the fifth Tar Heel to hit 90 threes in a single season. Justin Jackson (105), Shammond Williams (95), Marcus Paige (94), and Joel Berry (93) are the other four.

  • Coby White now has one or fewer turnovers in four of the last five games. He had achieved this just three times in his 28 games prior.

  • At halftime, both teams had 14 defensive rebounds. The difference was that Carolina also had 14 offensive rebounds to Iona’s two. The Gaels only managed 10 more rebounds the rest of the game, none of which were offensive. Overall, Carolina doubled up Iona on the glass 52-26 and had 25 second chance points to the Gaels’ three.
  • Interestingly, no Tar Heel had double-digit rebounds, but all five starters had between six and nine.
  • This projected to be a high-scoring game with both teams in the top-50 in tempo according to KenPom. However, Iona decided to slow the game down and try to take Carolina out of transition. It worked in the first half with the Heels only scoring two fast break points in that stretch.
  • A big part of why Iona’s plan worked is that they hit 10 three-pointers in the first half while Carolina struggled to run offense against the Gaels’ match-up zone. The second half, however, was a different story. The Gaels hit their second three-pointer of the second half, before missing their next 12 by which point the Heels were up by 18.
  • It’s always a question how freshmen will respond to their first NCAA Tournament game. While most of the team was struggling in the first half, it was Coby White and Nassir Little who led the way offensively. White scored eight of the team’s first 12. Nassir Little picked up his second foul with 8:49 left before halftime, but stayed in the game and proceeded to score Carolina’s next three buckets. Little finished second on the team in scoring with 19 (behind Johnson’s 21) on an efficient 9-for-13 shooting.

  • While being less of a factor than his classmates, Leaky Black saw his first game action since spraining his ankle on January 29 against Georgia Tech. He secured three rebounds in the last four minutes of the first half and played well other than a turnover in the closing seconds before halftime.
  • The seniors were the primary culprits of the first-half woes. The three combined to shoot 6-for-22, including 1-for-8 from three point range. But then the second half happened. After halftime, Carolina went on an 11-3 run to grab a 44-41 lead. All 11 of those points were scored by the senior trio, who shot a combined 10-for-15 (4-for-6 from deep) in the second half. After the 11-3 run, Iona scored the next two points before the Heels reeled off a backbreaking 19-4 run to essentially put the game out of reach.
  • It was another balanced scoring night for the Tar Heels, with five Tar Heels in double figures and Kenny Williams chipping in eight.
  • Speaking of Kenny Williams, keep an eye on his right knee. He checked out of the game with just a couple minutes remaining and had the training staff check him out.

  • The second round will be an interesting match-up against Washington, whose head coach, Mike Hopkins, was a long-time Syracuse assistant and runs Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense. It’s worth noting that since Syracuse came to the ACC, the Tar Heels are 8-1 against the Orange (the only loss coming in the teams’ first ACC match-up). In those games, the Tar Heels have averaged 20 assists per game and assisted on 69.2 percent of made field goals. In the three most recent meetings, those numbers jump to 21.3 assists per game, while assisting on an absurd 81.0 percent of made field goals.

Roy Williams, Nassir Little, Cameron Johnson postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the second round of the NCAA Tournament against Washington on Sunday, March 24. Tip is approximately 2:40ET (following Iowa/Tennessee) on CBS.

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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 @ Clemson

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 81-79 road win over Clemson on Saturday night.

Highlights:

  • See what happened on that last play was…well…and then…okay, so…ummm….yeah. In all seriousness, you never expect to get a favorable call on the road in an end-of-game scenario, but that’s what happened. While it seemed like perhaps Garrison Brooks fouled Clemson’s Shelton Mitchell as he drove to the bucket in the waning seconds, the refs didn’t call it, so it wasn’t a foul and Carolina won by two. Coby White made a heads’ up play on that Clemson drive to save the ensuing loose ball to Garrison Brooks, who got the ball ahead to Kenny Williams. Williams wisely threw the ball ahead to the other end of the court where the clock ran out before Clemson could recover the ball and get a shot off.
  • Yes, the clock was still running when Clemson recovered and the player got the shot off before the clock said zero. However, the clock had stopped for approximately 1.8 seconds during the scrum on the other end and Clemson’s Hail Mary was released with 0.2 remaining. So the shot wouldn’t have counted if it had gone; thusly Williams’ play was brilliant.
  • While we all care a great deal about the results of a basketball game, the more important concern on Saturday was the health of Roy Williams. Just before halftime, Coach Williams went down with one of his bouts of vertigo that we’ve become accustomed to seeing from time to time. Unfortunately, this episode wasn’t one where he just popped back up and was fine. Coach was escorted to the locker room by Doug Halverson and Eric Hoots and did not return to the court for the rest of the game. Steve Robinson filled in admirably and helped guide the Heels to victory.
  • With the win, Carolina is 8-0 on the road in ACC games. This means that a win at Boston College on Tuesday would be just the second time since the ACC expanded to 18 games in 2012-13 that a team has finished 9-0 on the road in conference play (Virginia achieved that feat last season).
  • Coby White started the game on fire. In the first eight minutes, he had 14 points including four three-pointers. He finished with a game high 28 points, to go along with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, but unfortunately five turnovers. White now has 70 threes on the season, the second-most ever by a Tar Heel freshman. Rashad McCants holds the record with 72.
  • Just another ho-hum double-double for Luke Maye (13 points, 10 rebounds), his twelfth of the year. Maye is tied for 15th all-time at Carolina with 854 rebounds and is 49th in points with 1286.
  • Clemson big man Elijah Thomas is precisely the type of player the Heels have struggled with the past two seasons. He exploded for 10 points, nine rebounds, and two assists in the first half. However, a third foul early in the second half limited his production to just three more points, two more rebounds, and one assist.
  • Welcome back Sterling Manley, now shoot two free throws with nobody standing on the lane. With 54 seconds remaining before halftime, Manley checked in for the first time since the Davidson game back on December 29 and immediately took an elbow to the face from Elijah Thomas. Thomas was assessed a Flagrant 1. Manley made one of two free throws and Cam Johnson hit a three on the ensuing possession.
  • Speaking of Cam Johnson, he scored 19 points, 18 of which came from six three-pointers (on just eight attempts). The efficient shooting brought his season percentage from deep up to a ridiculous 48.1 percent. His 78 made threes so far this season is already tied for 15th in a single season in Carolina history.
  • On the flip side of three-point shooting is Kenny Williams. He hasn’t hit from deep in four straight games and is 0-for-14 in that stretch. But as Kenny Williams does, he’s found other ways to contribute. In that same stretch he has 13 assists and just five turnovers. He has multiple drawn charges. It was Williams who huddled the team together to rally the troops and settle everyone down after Coach Williams’ vertigo episode. It was Williams who hit a couple mid-range shots down the stretch. It was Williams who grabbed Coby White to assure him after White prematurely fouled in the closing moments. It was Williams who hit three of four free throws to help seal the win. I’ll say it til I’m blue in the face: Senior. Leadership. Matters.

  • There were some interesting line-up combinations on Saturday. For a stretch in both halves, Coby White and Seventh Woods were both on the floor, seemingly in an effort to get White some off-the-ball scoring opportunities. It will be interesting to see if Coach Williams utilizes this combination more going forward.
  • Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks, and Coby White each finished the game with four fouls. Maye and Brooks played the last three minutes and change saddled with four. This is when the depth that Coach Williams develops each year becomes important. You never know when a similar scenario will happen going forward and the Heels will need to call on Brandon Huffman (& hopefully Sterling Manley) to provide some key minutes.
  • Huffman and Manley both helped down the stretch of the first half. Huffman in particular showed great tenacity on the offensive boards leading to a Nassir Little put-back and and-one.

  • To that end, 11 different players saw the court in the first half for Carolina. Keep in mind, this is with Leaky Black still on the bench in street clothes.
  • A takeaway from this game will be end-of-game awareness. After a Cam Johnson three gave Carolina a seven-point lead with 1:15 to go, Coby White turned the ball over near mid-court. So instead of a seven point lead with under one minute remaining, Clemson cut the lead to five with still more than a minute. This was not the only issue, but the one that stands out the most as causing more end-of-game pressure than was necessary. That said, the Heels did what they needed to do from the free throw line to escape with a win, including making the front end of several 1-and-1s.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the final road game of the season against Boston College on Tuesday, March 5. Tip is at 8:00ET on Raycom and WatchESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-72 road win over Duke on Wednesday night.

Highlights:

  • How absolutely sublime that in a year when all anyone can talk about is Duke’s freshmen, it was Carolina’s senior leadership that won this game. Luke Maye finished with 30 points (his first 20-point game against Duke), 15 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers. Cameron Johnson had 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and zero turnovers. And while Kenny Williams didn’t have the scoring numbers, he drew three charges, had five rebounds, four assists, one steal and zero turnovers. Maye has scored 20+ in four of the last six games, while Johnson has 27 and 26 points in the last two.
  • While the seniors had really strong games, the freshmen unfortunately struggled. Coby White finished with six turnovers and nine points, but on 3-for-14 shooting. He did corral five rebounds, dish out three assists and have two blocks. Nassir Little was essentially a non-factor and Leaky Black is still in street clothes.
  • With the freshmen struggling, it was up to the juniors and sophomores to help out. With White struggling, Seventh Woods provided 12 strong minutes. He scored five points, drew a charge, passed out three assists and had two steals. One of those steals led to the vicious Garrison Brooks dunk right before halftime. Speaking of Brooks, he was the other unexpected scoring contributor – 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and two steals.
  • The aforementioned Brooks dunk right before halftime was part of the most important sequence of the game. With 1:30 remaining before halftime, Duke cut the Carolina lead to five. Over the next 90 seconds, the Heels went on a 5-0 run to rebuild a double-digit lead. On two occasions early in the second half, Duke cut the lead back to nine, but the Heels led by double-digits for the remaining 18 minutes of the game. A week after Duke’s impressive comeback against Louisville, Carolina knew they had to keep playing. Every time Duke made a push, the Heels responded right back.
  • If you told me before the game that Carolina was going to shoot 2-for-20 from three and that Coby White was going to shoot 3-for-14 and have six turnovers, I would have thought there was no way Carolina wins. This team has been so dependent upon the outside shot this year.
  • Carolina wasn’t the only team to struggle from deep. The two teams combined to shoot 3-for-34 from three in the first half. Duke wound up shooting 8-for-39 for the game.
  • Part of the reason Carolina was able to overcome those shooting woes was their points in the paint. The Heels scored 30 of their first 32 points in the paint (12 of which were second chance buckets). Duke allows 30.0 points in the paint per game this season. Carolina more than doubled that number, finishing with a whopping 62.
  • And part of the reason Carolina was able to get those inside points was a knee injury to Zion Williamson less than a minute into the game. It’s unfortunate for the young man, who is a transcendent athlete. Hopefully he’ll be okay. It was obvious (with apologies to Tre Jones) that Williamson is the one who sets the defensive tone for Duke. Without him, the Blue Devils are extremely vulnerable defensively; particularly in the paint. The Williamson-less Blue Devils we saw tonight reminded me more of last year’s poor defensive team than the unit I’ve seen this year in Durham.
  • An important factor in Williamson’s absence was the freedom it allowed Luke Maye. Maye, who would have had a much more difficult time navigating Williamson’s defense, quickly scored six points against the replacement (Jack White) and was then off and running to a 30-point game.
  • Duke fans will say the injury cost Duke the game (and it certainly had a great impact), but the same could be said for Carolina’s game against Virginia last week. A game in which Carolina came much closer to winning than Duke did tonight. Even without Zion, Duke still has three of the top 10 freshmen (and two of the presumptive top-five NBA Draft picks) in the country. Plus, the game was played at Cameron (a.k.a. Hansbrough) Indoor Stadium.
  • It’s so vitally important to get off to a good start on the road (see Carolina’s 18-0 opening against Wake on Saturday). The Tar Heels jumped on top early, never trailed and built a double-digit lead seven-and-a-half minutes into the game.
  • 160 total points were scored in the game. Only 44 of those points (27.5 percent) were scored by someone not named Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, RJ Barrett or Cam Reddish.
  • Carolina is now 7-0 in the ACC in road games. The remaining two are at Clemson and at Boston College. Only one team has ever gone 9-0 on the road in ACC play – Virginia in 2017-18.
  • This was the 11th time in the Roy Williams / Mike Krzyzewski era that Carolina and Duke have met as top-10 opponents. After tonight’s win, Carolina now holds a 6-5 advantage in those games.

  • With the win (and given the tiebreaker over NC State), Carolina is now guaranteed no worse than the seventh seed in the ACC Tournament, including a first round bye.
  • The Heels are tied for first in the ACC with Virginia and Duke. Carolina’s next two games are against Florida State and Syracuse, the teams tied for fourth (and two games back in the loss column). The results of those two games will go a long way to determining who winds up with the top four seeds in the ACC Tournament (which comes with a first and second round bye). Carolina has the scheduling advantage of playing both these games in the Dean Dome.
  • Carolina now has victories over two of the four current projected number one seeds (Duke and Gonzaga) and came a few plays away from a third (Virginia). Duke has two wins over Virginia, but, outside of that, the Tar Heels arguably own the best pair of wins in the country.
  • Something to keep your eye on: Cam Johnson can’t seem to catch a break on the nagging injury front. This was the third game he’s missed part of because of an injury. Tonight he hurt his left ankle when stepping on a photographer four minutes into the second half. He came back in a couple minutes later and promptly hit a mid-range shot and later drew a charge. However, he appeared to re-tweak the ankle in the last minute of the game. Hopefully Cam will be okay for the quick turnaround against Florida State on Saturday.
  • Many celebrities were on hand for the game. Most notably was President Obama. Others included Spike Lee, Todd Gurley, Greg Olsen and Ken Griffey Jr.

 

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 Florida State on Saturday, February 23. Tip is at 3:45ET on CBS.

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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 @ Louisville

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-69 road win on Saturday afternoon over Louisville.

Highlights:

  • What a huge win for Carolina. In addition to the revenge factor, the victory allows the Heels to keep pace with Duke and Virginia atop the ACC standings.
  • Just eight games into conference play Carolina has already secured a winning road record in ACC games, by achieving a 5-0 start. With five of the first eight conference games being on the road, this also means that six of the remaining 10 are at home.
  • In the previous match-up in Chapel Hill, the Heels played uninspired and uninterested. That was not the case today as the boys in baby blue were the aggressors from tip to final horn. This was most evident on the defensive end of the court. For example, Steven Enoch, who abused Carolina inside in the first game for 17 points and 11 rebounds, finished with zero points on 0-1 shooting and four rebounds.
  • The 10 turnovers today tied for the second-fewest committed by Carolina all season. No single player had more than two. Most importantly, Coby White had four assists against two turnovers, while Seventh Woods also had four assists and zero turnovers. Coach Williams will be pleased with an 8:2 assist-to-turnover ratio from his two primary ballhandlers.
  • There will be games where the freshmen dominate the headlines. Then there will be games like today when the seniors combined for 49 of the team’s 79 points.
  • Louisville outrebounded Carolina in the first game (40-31). Not today. The Heels went from the -9 of the first game to +17 today (49-32). In fact, the Cardinals didn’t corral a single offensive rebound until after halftime. On the other hand Carolina tied their second-highest offensive rebound output of the season with 18.

  • Nine players saw time on the court for Carolina. Nine players scored. Nine players recorded a rebound. Seven players recorded an assist.
  • Luke Maye finished the Georgia Tech game with a meager four points. He responded today with 20 points and 11 rebounds. It wasn’t a great shooting day (7-for-18), but what a great response from the senior. Here’s Maye talking about the game:
  • Louisville typically makes a living at the line. Today, they only took nine free throws. So not only were the Tar Heels the aggressors, but they did so without fouling. Meanwhile, Carolina made more free throws (15), than the nine that Louisville took.
  • Louisville made push after push in the second half to try and get back in the game. Carolina had an answer every time. Kenny Williams, in particular, had two important threes in these situations. Williams also had a monster defensive rebound in the first half which resulted in a Cam Johnson three and the first double-digit lead of the day.
  • After the first game against Louisville, one of the storylines was that Carolina would have to shoot better than 3-for-22 from deep. The Tar Heels did shoot better, but only marginally so (6-for-24). It’s been said of this team that they have to find a way to win when the outside shots aren’t falling, and today they did.
  • Another stat that needed to be remedied from game one was Coby White’s minutes (and points). Due to foul trouble, he only played 19 in the first match-up and scored four points. Today he played 30 minutes, but shot 3-for-14 and finished with eight points. It’s also been said of this team that they have to find a way to win when Coby White doesn’t shoot well, and today they did.
  • Part of the reason the Heels were able to do so was the steady hand of Seventh Woods. Woods has struggled recently, but had to do well today because there was no Leaky Black to play third-string point guard. Here’s Woods talking about his play today:
  • Brandon Huffman played some important minutes in the first half after Garrison Brooks picked up his second foul. Huffman played solid interior defense and scored a bucket off a post-up.
  • Despite the two first half fouls, Garrison Brooks played a really solid game. He scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He scored two interior buckets early in the second half and a few minutes later had a dunk in transition.
  • The first four minutes of each half are always important, but especially on the road. At the first media timeout of the game the Heels led 10-9. The halftime lead was 16 and at the first media timeout of the second half Louisville was only able to knock the lead down one to 15.
  • Nassir Little just continues to make ridiculous athletic plays. He had a tip-in in the closing minutes of the first half that had no business going in. He also had this block on a really nice defensive play:
  • Cameron Johnson posted another double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He didn’t miss a shot in the first half – 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting, 2-for-2 from deep, 2-for-2 from the line.

 

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 NC State on Tuesday, February 5. Tip is at 8:00ET on Raycom.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Georgia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-54 road win on Tuesday night over Georgia Tech.

Highlights:

  • The story of this game was a 25-5 run over the first 6:50 of the second half that pushed a seven-point halftime lead out to 27. The Heels took the lead out to 30 halfway through the second half.
  • Carolina has not yet lost on the road in ACC play. The Heels are 4-0 away from the Dean Dome in conference games. Playing at Louisville on Saturday will be a fierce test of the teams’ road mettle.
  • Curious rebounding numbers in the wins over Virginia Tech last week and Georgia Tech tonight. While UNC outrebounded both teams (VT 35-32 and GT 39-34), the margins against overmatched rebounding opponents should have been significantly larger.
  • Once again, turnovers made life more difficult than it needed to be. For the game, Carolina surrendered 15. Luke Maye was responsible for one-third of those. At one point in the first half, the Tar Heels turned the ball over on four straight possessions.

  • The beginning of the first half was all about Coby White, the beginning of the second half was all about Cameron Johnson. White was 2-for-2 from deep in the first four minutes and scored eight of Carolina’s first 11 points. He finished with 19 points (7-13 FG, 5-9 3FG) and eight assists (against two turnovers). Johnson scored the Heels’ first eight points of the second half and led all scorers with 22 points. He shot an incredibly efficient 4-6 from three and 8-10 on all field goals.
  • Leaky Black sprained his left ankle with 8:28 remaining. He was seen on crutches and in a walking boot after the game.
  • Georgia Tech’s 54 points was the fewest points Carolina has allowed this season. Also the third time Carolina has held their opponent under 60. Carolina held exactly one opponent under 60 the entirety of the 2017-18 season. The Yellow Jackets missed their first nine three-pointers and finished 2-16.
  • Even though Nassir Little’s streak of scoring in double-digit games ended, he had another solid performance (other than settling for threes on a couple occasions). Little  is so freakishly athletic. He had several rebounds that were unbelievable. His follow of his own shot and put back with 10:30 remaining was as impressive and quick of a second jump as you’ll see.
  • Tonight wasn’t 16 made three-pointers like against Virginia Tech, but 13-27 from deep is another really impressive showing.
  • Seventh Woods had a nice moment in the first half. He tipped a Georgia Tech pass, which deflected to Cameron Johnson. Johnson pitched ahead to Woods who rose up for a transition dunk.

  • As part of Carolina’s second half run, Georgia Tech had a transition lay-up to cut the lead to 10. They missed it and a Carolina break back the other way resulted in a Garrison Brooks dunk and a 14 point lead. Those were the first two points in a 15-0 Tar Heel scoring run. Here’s the dunk:

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 Louisville on Saturday, February 2. Tip is at 2:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ NC State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 90-82 road victory on Tuesday night over NC State.

Highlights:

  • What a start to conference play. The Heels are 2-0 in the ACC. Both road wins. This one over an upstart NC State team ranked 15thin the nation. The Tar Heels never trailed against the Wolfpack and responded each time the home team made a run. That’s the start you want to the conference portion of your schedule. Carolina finally gets a home conference game Saturday against Louisville before hosting a struggling Notre Dame team after that.
  • With 12:19 remaining Cam Johnson dove after a loose ball and crumpled into a heap on the floor while clutching his inner right knee. I (and likely a multitude of others) feared the worst: torn ACL. Poor Cam Johnson has worked so hard to get to where he is as the match-up-nightmare-sniper-who-can-also-drive-you-to-the-hole leading scorer of the 2018-19 Tar Heels. Thankfully the report turned out to be cramps and Johnson returned to the bench with just a little bit of time left on the clock. Coach Williams reported that he didn’t want to put Johnson back in the game for fear of the cramps returning in a crucial moment. Brandon Robinson and Leaky Black both filled Johnson’s minutes admirably down the stretch. Here’s Cam in the locker room postgame, discussing the incident:
  • Much has been made of Luke Maye’s consistent growth at the free throw line, but don’t miss Garrison Brooks’ numbers in the same department. In his freshman year, he shot 58.7 percent (37-63). Through 15 games this season, Brooks is up to 72.1 percent (31-43), a change of +13.4 percentage points. Checking in on Maye’s free throw numbers, he’s shooting 80.6 percent this year, up 18.2 percent from last year (62.4 percent) and 37.7 percent from his freshman year (42.9 percent).
  • Staying with Brooks, he has now tallied five assists and zero turnovers in back-to-back games. He led the team in assists in both games (Cam Johnson also had five against NC State). Brooks and Maye have developed some good big-to-big passing chemistry.

  • Luke Maye recorded a double-double (21 points, 11 boards). You’ve heard that before. But what will surprise you is that Kenny Williams (15 points, 10 boards) and Cam Johnson (15 points, 11 boards) joined him in the double-double club. Three Tar Heel double-doubles in one game! The feat was the first of Williams’ career, and the first time he’s reached double-digits rebounds. For Johnson, it was his first of the season and fourth of his career. Here’s Kenny Williams talking about being 4-0 in Raleigh during his tenure as a Tar Heel:
  • Those double-doubles helped contribute to a 51-33 advantage on the boards for the Heels. After a recent concerning trend down in rebounding dominance for Carolina (a stat they rely on heavily), this reversal was a welcome sight. Particularly because NC State has also rebounded the ball well this year.
  • The Tar Heels shot well on frees and threes. Carolina was 22-for-26 (84.6 percent) from the free throw line and 10-for-25 (40 percent) from deep. This is the second game in a row the team has shot 40 percent or better from three-point range.
  • Roy Williams loves when his teams make more free throws than the opponents attempt. Carolina made 22 free throws. NC State attempted 17.
  • Oh the turnovers. 23 of them. Luke Maye was the main culprit with seven, followed by Coby White with five. In fairness, NC State makes a living by forcing turnovers, but Carolina has to be tougher with the ball. After back-to-back games of trending in the right direction with just 11 giveaways in each, 23 is worrisome.
  • Leaky Black picked up his third foul with 4:26 remaining before halftime. Play resumed before Coach Williams could sub him out. How did Black respond? A block on the next possession. Challenging a shot on the possession after that while staying straight up and down so as to not draw a foul. That’s a freshman making important defensive plays on back-to-back possessions right after drawing a third foul in the first half.
  • Out of context, allowing 82 points sounds like it was a poor defensive night. However Carolina held NC State to under one point per possession. In fact, don’t look now, but this is the fifth game in a row the Heels have held their opponent under one point per possession.

 

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the first ACC home game, against Louisville. Tip is Saturday, January 12 at Noon ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 85-60 road win on Saturday over Pittsburgh.

Highlights:

  • This was the start the Tar Heels needed in conference play. During the 2016-17 season Carolina had a similar start to the ACC schedule: back-to-back road games with the first against one of the presumptive bottom dwellers in the conference. That year, Carolina went to Atlanta and lost to Georgia Tech by 12. The current iteration of the Tar Heels would not suffer the same fate, by securing a dominant victory in Pittsburgh.
  • This game was Cam Johnson’s first return game to Pitt (Carolina played the Panthers only at home last year). Not a single player remaining on Pitt’s roster was one of Johnson’s teammates. Lots of players in that position of returning home try too hard or get too amped up. Not Johnson, who had another great game. He, along with Coby White, paced Carolina’s scoring in the first half. Johnson also tallied a season-high nine rebounds, had four assists and zero turnovers. Here’s Johnson talking about his homecoming:
  • This game was tied at 12. Carolina then went on an extended 26-5 run (including a 16-0 spurt) to essentially put the game out of reach.
  • Last season, Johnson fell well short of his three-point shooting expectations (34.1 percent). This year he’s up nearly 15 percent (48.6 percent), hitting 35 of 72 shots thus far. Literally one more made three would have him at 50 percent from deep on the season.
  • Garrison Brooks did a better job managing his fouls than he has of late. He didn’t pick up a second foul until just before halftime. This self-control allowed him to play 28 minutes, up from a 19.5 season average. The extra court time afforded Brooks the opportunity to have arguably his most productive game of the season – nine points on 4-for-8 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists, zero turnovers, two blocks and two steals. In fact, he was the leading assist man on the team.
  • Carolina has now committed just 11 turnovers in back-to-back games. While any number of turnovers is undesirable, 11 is a palatable number for Coach Williams and his up-tempo style of play.
  • The Heels racked up 24 assists on 32 made buckets (75 percent). At halftime, Carolina has 11 assists and Pitt had precisely zero.
  • For the third game in a row, Carolina held their opponent to 60 points or less and under 40 percent shooting. Pitt only scored 23 points and shot 20.7 percent in the first half. Here’s an example of that solid defense turning into an assist from White to Maye:

  • Carolina hauled in 51 rebounds (17 offensive), led by Luke Maye’s 11. However, they allowed 46 rebounds to Pittsburgh. So the rebounding total is where it needs to be, but the rebound margin is less than the advantage the Heels usually enjoy.

  • Coby White’s shot might be back. He led the team in scoring with 22. He and Johnson each hit three first-half three pointers en route to the team shooting 10-for-24 (41.7 percent) from deep. Pitt, on the other hand, only buried two three pointers. Here’s White discussing his first ever ACC game:
  • Kenny Williams had a rough, foul-plagued game. He picked up his third foul with just over 8:00 before halftime and his fourth less than two minutes into the second half. Williams shot 1-for-5 from the floor, including 0-for-3 from deep. You have to feel for the senior.
  • Carolina employed a zone in the first defensive possession after the under 12:00 media timeout of the first half. They played six total zone possessions in the first half as well as several more in the second.
  • An area Carolina needs to continue to grow: the Heels let Pitt get into the bonus with 14:22 left in the first half.
  • It seems like at least once a game Nassir Little comes up with some type of highlight. He had a monster block with around 12:00 left in the first half and had a huge dunk later in the game.

  • The three freshmen (Nassir Little, Coby White, Leaky Black) were on the court together quite a bit throughout the game. Roy Williams’ willingness to trust his three freshmen in a line-up together in their first ACC road game says a lot about his faith in them.
  • The Heels had really active hands against Pitt; particularly from Brandon Robinson who finished with three steals.
  • It seems like more often than not, Carolina has a lapse just before halftime. Not so today. The first half ended with a wonderfully executed fast break. Leaky Black grabbed a rebound and pitched ahead to Cam Johnson who passed to Coby White for a lay-up as the buzzer expired. Here’s the play:

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 NC State on Tuesday, January 8. Tip is at 9:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Harvard

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-57 home victory on Wednesday night over Harvard.

Highlights:

  • Tonight was the final tune-up for the Tar Heels before ACC play commences on Saturday at Pittsburgh. It was a sluggish win for Carolina, but a win all the same. At the same time, the ugly win will not do much to inspire confidence heading into conference play. The 2018-19 Tar Heels are very much still a work in progress.
  • For the 13thseason in a row, Carolina has amassed 10+ non-conference wins.
  • Sterling Manley was out tonight with left knee discomfort. There is no current timetable for his return.
  • The Tar Heels only had four first half turnovers and finished with 11. Curiously, Cam Johnson was responsible for five of those. Harvard finished with 22 turnovers.

  • Carolina only out-rebounded Harvard 38-34 and had just eight offensive rebounds.
  • Garrison Brooks had another strong start but picked up two fouls before the first media timeout. This is the third game in a row he’s had two fouls in the first five minutes. Particularly with a thin front line further thinned with Sterling Manley’s absence, Brooks has to find ways to stay on the court longer.

  • Admittedly it has been against back-to-back mid-major teams, but the defense is trending in the right direction. Purely based off of shooting numbers, Carolina has held their last two opponents (Davidson and Harvard) to 33.9 percent (41-for-121) on field goals. Anecdotally, the team appears to be playing with more urgency, activity and cohesion on defense. Of course, there is still room to grow on defense. Here is Kenny Williams talking about that need for growth:
  • This defense uptick is fortunate because the Heels are struggling in half court offense and need the defense to turn into fast-break offense. A great example of the defense turning into offense came just before the under 4:00 media timeout of the first half. Kenny Williams grabbed a steal and pitched ahead to Leaky Black who assisted Nassir Little on an explosive dunk.

  • Sluggish and sloppy start to second half. Harvard cut the lead down to as little as 5.
  • If something seemed different defensively in the second half, that’s because Carolina started switching all their screens instead of the usual hedging out.
  • 19-22 from the free throw line for the Heels. Those are numbers you’ll take any night.

  • 5 different players hit double-digit scoring, led by Luke Maye’s 14.
  • For the first time all season, Kenny Williams didn’t record an assist.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the ACC conference opener on the road against Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 5. Tip is at Noon ET on Raycom. Here’s former Pittsburgh Panther Cam Johnson talking about tonight’s game, but also the impending match-up in Pennsylvania:

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