Tag Archives: Roy Williams

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Syracuse (ACC Tournament – 2nd Round)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 81-53 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday night in the ACC Tournament 2nd Round.

Highlights:

Condensed Game:

  • Tonight was a fitting end to one of the most confounding seasons in Carolina basketball history. The Heels turned in a lackluster performance, reminiscent of the Wake Forest game earlier in the season, and consequently faced their biggest deficit (30) in a season full of them. Syracuse jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back.
  • Carolina has played Syracuse 10 times since the Orange joined the ACC. The Heels’ assist totals in those 10 games are: 25, 19, 20, 25, 22, 18, 17, 24, 22, and 13 (the lone loss). In wins, Carolina has averaged 21.3 assists per game. In the lone loss, the total was 13 assists. With that in mind, the threshold of assists we were looking for tonight was around 15. Unfortunately, Carolina only managed nine.
  • After a nine game stretch in which Christian Keeling scored nine or more points in every outing, his career ends with just six points over his final three contests. In those three games he shot a combined 2-for-15, including 0-for-4 and zero points tonight. While it didn’t affect his performance in each of those three games, the ankle injury Keeling suffered yesterday certainly played a role in tonight’s scoreless effort.
  • After shooting so well during Carolina’s three-game winning streak, Cole Anthony went 9-for-34 (26.5%) in his final three collegiate games. In that same span he tallied 10 assists and 16 turnovers.
  • Carolina turned the ball over on two of their first three possessions and finished with 18 for the game. That number is exactly double their assist total (18 to nine) and just two shy of having as many turnovers as made baskets (18 to 20).
  • Carolina has often struggled from the free throw line this season, but thankfully ended on a high note, making 11 of 13 (84.6%).
  • Garrison Brooks’ streak of scoring 20 or more points ends at seven games. Brooks finished with a Carolina high 18 points tonight. The junior was in tears on the bench after checking out for the last time. You have to believe he will do everything he possibly can to ensure that next season is not a repeat of this one. Here’s an example of what we hope to see a lot of in 2020-21:

  • Armando Bacot was a couple points and rebounds shy of notching his third straight double-double (eight points, seven rebounds). He finishes his freshman campaign second all-time in Carolina history for double-doubles in a freshman season (11 to Antawn Jamison’s 13 in 1995-96).
  • Three point shooting had been a boon for Carolina over the last several games. Not so tonight. The Heels were 0-for-7 from deep in the first half and managed just two in the second half (one each from Black and Anthony) to finish 2-for-16.
  • The Heels suffered from several mental lapses. On three separate occasions in the game, Carolina fouled a three-point shooter. Twice in the first half, Carolina goaltended balls that weren’t going anywhere near falling through the hoop (Anthony and Black). You just can’t make mental mistakes like that and expect to win.
  • An early inauspicious sign for Carolina was Leaky Black and Brandon Robinson each picking up two fouls within the first four minutes of the game. Black picked up his third foul later in the first half. Unlike last night’s explosion, Robinson was never able to get on track and finished his final collegiate game scoring just four points, not hitting a three, not getting any assists, and committing four turnovers. Thankfully, Robinson has a career full of great memories, which will trump this one.
  • With 6:47 remaining in the first half, Leaky Black hit two free throws to cut the Syracuse lead down to four. From there Syracuse went on a 19-2 run (including a flagrant foul on Cole Anthony) to essentially put the game out of reach. From that 21-point halftime lead, Carolina never got closer than 16 points in the second half.
  • One of the few highlights of the night: With 7:15 remaining in the first half, Cole Anthony had a really nice spin move and lay-up to bring Carolina within six points of Syracuse. Unfortunately, the bad-decision making version of Anthony showed up on several occasions tonight as well. He hoisted several early shot clock threes as the game was getting out of hand, rather than working for the correct shot.
  • Carolina scored 22 points in the first half. Literally none of them were outside the paint (16 points in the paint, six free throws).
  • One thing I won’t miss about Cole Anthony is how often (and how demonstratively) he complains after being called for a foul. That’s just not a good way to ingratiate yourself to referees, especially when you have not yet earned the cache to do so.
  • In a shock to no one, Armando Bacot twisted his ankle late in the first half. Thankfully he was able to come back out and play the second half, but clearly wasn’t up to his usual level of play.
  • Syracuse just plain and simple out-hustled Carolina throughout the game. The Heels had nowhere near their usual crisp passing and effort displayed against Syracuse.
  • After scoring just two first half points, Leaky Black poured in 12 in the second half for a career high 14 total points.
  • Always hard to see seniors play their last game; especially those who have been a Tar Heel for four years (and contributed to a National Champion team). So first, a big thanks to Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce for coming to play their final collegiate season in Chapel Hill. It obviously didn’t turn out the way either player was hoping, but such is sports. Thanks to Robbie O’Han and Caleb Ellis for the hard work they put in to prepare the rotation regulars for games. Thanks to Shea Rush for four years of commitment and dedication to being part of this program. And finally, thanks to Brandon Robinson for a memorable Carolina career. He started out a national champion and finished with an up and down senior season, thanks in large part to the injury bug, which just would not leave the senior alone.

Roy Williams, Garrison Brooks, and Leaky Black postgame press conference:

This loss ends Carolina’s 2019-20 season since they won’t have any postseason opportunities. Stay tuned to the Tar Heel Hoops Blog throughout the offseason for updates on NBA Draft declarations, incoming freshmen, and more.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Tournament – 1st Round)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-56 win over Virginia Tech on Tuesday night in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Thanks to a 22-point drubbing in a revenge game, we get to see the 2019-20 Tar Heels at least one more time this season.
  • You’ll recall that Brandon Robinson missed the first game as he was recovering from a car accident. He made up for that absence tonight by scoring eight of Carolina’s first 12 points and finishing with 17, including five three-pointers. Robinson also chipped in six rebounds, two assists, zero turnovers, two blocks, a steal, and most importantly, senior leadership.
  • Robinson was one of four Tar Heels who scored in double-figures, led by Garrison Brooks’ 20 points. Brooks now has scored 20 or more points in seven straight games. He struggled from the floor in the first half and the beginning of the second, hitting just one of his first six shots. The junior big man caught fire from that point and hit his final five shots.
  • Brooks nearly single-handedly matched Virginia Tech’s free throw numbers. He shot 8-for-10 from the line while the Hokies went 10-for-11 as an entire team. As a team, Carolina did, in fact, make more free throws (19) than Tech attempted (11).
  • Armando Bacot’s ankle seems to be healing well. He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, his 11th double-double of the season.
  • After managing just six offensive rebounds and two second chance points in the first match-up between these two teams (including both overtimes), tonight Carolina corralled 13 offensive rebounds and turned those into 15 second chance points.
  • Carolina won the rebounding battle with a committee approach. Six different Tar Heels had four or more rebounds. In total, Carolina out-rebounded Tech 45-30.
  • Hold the presses, this is breaking news: Carolina had two more injury concerns tonight. Just before halftime, Christian Keeling had his left ankle stepped on (and flattened) by a Hokie player. Keeling didn’t join the team on the bench after halftime but eventually came back out and even played 10:06 in the second half. Hopefully his ankle will be okay, because for Carolina to even think about winning this tournament they need all the depth they can get.
  • The other potential injury issue involved Leaky Black. With 3:59 left in the game officials stopped action when it appeared Black had some sort of injury to his face. Hopefully, Leaky will be all right and able to play tomorrow. His height and distribution capability are important factors against the Syracuse zone. Tonight Black had five points, six rebounds, four assists, and zero turnovers.
  • Although Cole Anthony struggled some from the floor (3-for-10) and turned the ball over (four times, including the first possession of the game), he looked much more like the Cole Anthony we’ve seen recently than the version that struggled against Duke. Anthony has really embraced the fact that this is Garrison Brooks’ team. In fact, the two connected on two beautiful pick-and-roll plays that each resulted in a Brooks dunk. Anthony finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Here’s video of the pick-and-roll with Anthony and Brooks:
  • Thanks in large part to Brandon Robinson, Carolina stayed hot from beyond the arc. Tonight’s 7-for-13 effort means that the Heels have made over half of their threes in two of the last three games. Over the course of the last four games, they are shooting 47.1 percent (32-for-68) on three-pointers as a team. Continuing to do so, will grant Brooks and Bacot much more space to operate inside.
  • After surrendering 14 threes to the Hokies in the first meeting, Carolina gave up just 10 tonight. Interestingly, Tech made more three-pointers (10) than two-pointers (eight).
  • After turning the ball over on the first two possessions of the game, Carolina surrendered just six more throughout the game. Only two of those final six occurred in the second half.
  • After scoring the first four points of the game, Virginia Tech missed their next eight shots (and 10 of 11), which allowed Carolina to go on a 12-0 run (17-3 extended) and take a lead they would never relinquish.
  • The big lead enabled Coach Williams to grab a little more rest for his starters than he otherwise might. No one hit the 35:00 mark. This also allowed several bench players to make bigger contributions. Andrew Platek scored Carolina’s last six points, and did so in three difference ways – one free throws, one three pointer, and one lay-up. Justin Pierce scored his four points with put-backs on back-to-back possessions.
  • One of Carolina’s issues this year has been closing games. Not so tonight. The Heels pushed the lead back out to double-digits two minutes into the second half and never allowed the Hokies to cut the deficit back to single digits. Further, the lead ballooned to as much as 25 on the strength of a 13-0 run. From there, Carolina cruised to victory.
  • Carolina’s biggest issue lately has not been the offense, but rather getting stops on defense. And while Virginia Tech missed some shots they might ordinarily make, they hit just 29 percent of their field goals tonight; that can’t all be attributed to just “missed shots”. The Heels also forced two separate shot clock violations. If Carolina can truly turn a corner defensively to match their offensive improvement, it could be a good week in the Greensboro Coliseum.

Roy Williams, Garrison Brooks, & Brandon Robinson postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the second round of the ACC Tournament game against Syracuse on Wednesday, March 11. Tip is at 9:00pm ET on ESPN2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 89-76 road loss to Duke on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Carolina fought valiantly to maintain proximity to Duke tonight, but it was not meant to be. The Heels weathered an early Blue Devil storm and eventually tied the game at 28, before finding themselves down by eight at halftime. Again the Heels clawed back to within one point twice in the second half, but couldn’t make the plays to get over the hump and the lead ballooned to the final margin of 13 points.
  • With apologies to Garrison Brooks, can we just pause and appreciate what a rough season Brandon Robinson’s body has endured? He has suffered countless ankle injuries and re-aggravations, a car accident, and tonight a head injury. The official word came out that Robinson would not play in the second half after taking an elbow to the face in the closing minutes of the first half. And yet he came back into the game early in the second half and wound up playing 13:51 and connecting on two three-pointers.
  • Garrison Brooks is having one of the more impressive offensive stretches in recent memory. Tonight’s 26 points give him six straight games of scoring 20-plus points and four straight games of scoring 25-plus points. His ups and downs at the free throw line have been well documented, but in this four game stretch Brooks is shooting 82.2 percent (37-for-45). Tonight’s double-double is his’ 12th on the year. Nine of Brooks’ 13 rebounds were offensive.

  • There was question whether Armando Bacot would be able to play tonight. He not only started, but had one of his most efficient outings of the season. Foul trouble and the lingering ankle injury limited Bacot to 23:2j3 of playing time, but in that time scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting and had 12 rebounds (including six offensive). Bacot’s double-double gives him 10 this season, the second most ever by a Carolina freshman (Antawn Jamison had 13).
  • Tonight was just the second game all season in which Cole Anthony didn’t achieve double-digits in the scoring column. Anthony had a bit of a rough night, due in large part to Duke’s defense. After multiple strong performances in a row, Anthony tried to win the game too much on his own tonight rather than involving his teammates. Such has been the case for many freshmen in their first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  • By no means should Anthony get all the blame. As a team, Carolina only achieved seven assists, the second lowest total this season. Far too often in the first half, the Heels let Duke goad them into taking jump shots rather than taking advantage of opportunities inside the paint.
  • Christian Keeling’s streak of nine straight games of scoring nine-plus points ended tonight as the grad transfer was only able to connect on one of his six shot attempts.
  • It was a strange rebounding night. Carolina won the overall battle 38-37, but exactly half of their rebounds were offensive. As you would imagine, the offensive glass kept Carolina close for much of the game.
  • After shooting over 40 percent from three each of the past two games, the Heels cooled off to just 33.3 percent (4-for-12) tonight. Conversely, Duke’s hot shooting from deep (10-for-21) provided a big advantage for the home team.
  • Each team’s first possession provided an inauspicious outlook for the rest of the game. On Duke’s first possession, Cole Anthony fouled Tre Jones just 16 seconds into the game. On Carolina’s first possession, Anthony turned the ball over after driving too far into traffic.
  • Duke outscored Carolina 19-to-5 in fast break points, several of which came on plays where the Blue Devils just plain outran the last line of Tar Heel defense for an easy lay-up.
  • For all the good things ESPN does, some of their production decisions are confounding. For example, why are we seeing a split screen of “94 Feet With Jay Bilas” during game action? This occurred from 11:59-11:18 of game action plus two Bacot free throws at the end of that time. People are tuned in to see the game, not hear a recap of a filler segment. It’s fine to show things like this, but don’t move away from game action for this.
  • Along a similar line (and it’s hard to say if this is a Jay Bilas issue, a referee issue, or some of both), on two different occasions in the game, Bilas said, “I don’t think that would have been a foul if the shot had gone in.” I get the humanity of officials, but it’s either a foul or it isn’t and officials should adjudicate the game as such.
  • The final 3:50 of the first half was an exercise in “don’t-let-Duke-build-too-much-of-a-lead-with-all-five-starters-on-the-bench”. At 3:50, Leaky Black picked up his second foul so he and Bacot (who already had two fouls) checked out. At 2:26, Brooks picked up his second foul and headed to the bench. At 1:42, Robinson got hurt and went straight to the locker room. Finally, with 0:56 left, Anthony picked up his second foul. So with four starters on the bench with two fouls and the fifth in the locker room injured, the lineup of Jeremiah Francis, Christian Keeling, Andrew Platek, Justin Pierce, and Walker Miller finished the first half. They played those 56 seconds to a 2-2 tie.
  • Justin Pierce drew another offensive foul tonight. Those types of hustle plays have been his biggest contribution to the 2019-20 Tar Heels.
  • We now turn our attention to do-or-die time in the ACC Tournament. We are to that strange part of every season where the next game could be the last.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the first round of the ACC Tournament. Carolina has the 14 seed and will play Virginia Tech on Tuesday, March 10. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Wake Forest

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 93-83 home win over Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Congratulations to the seniors, whose final home game will always be remembered as a win. On this night six players were honored – Brandon Robinson, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Shea Rush, Caleb Ellis, and Robbie O’Han. Since that equates to six players, Caleb Ellis was the odd-man-out who didn’t get to actually start the game.
  • It’s no coincidence that the current three-game winning streak coincides with Cole Anthony having his first three games of the season in which he shot 50 percent-plus from the field.
  • Carolina’s leading rebounder tonight was…Leaky Black. Black grabbed eight rebounds.
  • Armando Bacot went through shootaround but it was ultimately decided that he wouldn’t play.
  • The Tar Heels committed a season-low seven turnovers tonight, including only one in the second half.
  • The 35 first half points broke Carolina’s streak of scoring 40-plus points in four straight halves. But they then exploded for an absurd 58 points in the second 20 minutes. As part of the ridiculous second half, Carolina was shooting over 70 percent with 6:00 still to go. For the game, they wound up shooting 50.8 percent (31-for-61).
  • Christian Keeling did not continue his hot shooting in the first half, but scored eight straight for the Heels during a three-minute stretch midway through the second half. He did not hit double-digits but has scored nine or more points in nine straight games.
  • An underappreciated aspect of this Carolina team is their ability to draw charges. Tonight they drew four – two from Justin Pierce and one each from Christian Keeling and Cole Anthony.
  • Cole Anthony’s efficiency continues to skyrocket. In the past two games he has tallied 14 assists and just three turnovers. In those same games he has scored 25 and 28 points respectively. In the past three games he has connected on 12 of his 20 three-point attempts. His floor management grows every game. Really would love to see how the team would have fared if Cole hadn’t been injured.
  • Garrison Brooks continues to astound. He had three and-one opportunities in the first half (connecting on two of them). He has five straight games of scoring 20-plus points and three straight games of 25-plus points. In that five game stretch, Brooks is shooting 63 percent from the field. Brooks and Anthony combined for 53 of Carolina’s 93 points tonight. Also to Brooks’ credit, he picked up his second foul with 6:53 left in the first half, continued to play through the rest of the first half plus nearly all of the second half and yet never picked up his third foul.

  • Speaking of fouls, Wake typically makes a living at the free throw line, however Carolina outpaced the Demon Deacons tonight. In fact, in the second half, the Heels were in the bonus for the final 9:30 while Wake never reached the bonus.
  • Carolina had an aberrational strong three-point shooting performance against Syracuse, going 11-for-26 (42.3 percent) from deep. The fear tonight was that the three-point shooting would regress to the mean or, worse, resemble Carolina’s 1-for-16 performance from the first time they played Wake. To the contrary, it got better. Tonight they shot 10-for-17 from deep, good for an astounding 58.8 percent. Anthony and Robinson did the majority of the work in this category, contributing four and five made threes respectively.
  • Cole Anthony had some spectacular plays this evening. A flip pass over his head to Brooks for a lay-up plus the foul with just over 5:00 to go in the first half was a standout. Another stellar play was an absurd reverse lay-up about seven minutes into the second half. Here are both plays:
  • The first half featured several mini-runs. When the Carolina regulars came in for the first time, they reeled off 12 straight. Wake responded with an immediate 7-0 run and another 7-0 just a bit later.
  • The entirety of the game felt like one of those where the Heels were in control the whole time, but Wake was right there with them. Every punch Carolina landed, Wake had an answer. But in the end Carolina made the plays (and free throws) they needed in order to hold on. Have these Heels turned the corner? Do they now know how to close out an opponent?
  • Oh these Tar Heels! They are doing just enough here at the end of the conference portion of the season to give you a glimmer of hope for a run in the conference tournament. First, though, we turn our attention to Duke on Saturday.
  • Brandon Robinson Senior Night speech:
  • Shea Rush Senior Night Speech:

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 Saturday, March 7. Tip is at 6:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Syracuse

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 92-79 road win over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Carolina once again dissects Syracuse and their vaunted zone. Today they tallied 25 assists on 33 made baskets (75.8 percent). In the 10 games the Heels and Orange have played since Syracuse joined the ACC, Carolina has averaged 20.5 assists per game and has assisted on exactly 70 percent of their made baskets.
  • After a season of losing leads, Carolina has now held on down the stretch in back-to-back games. The Heels were composed and held their poise in the face of Syracuse pressure throughout the second half. In fact, of their four second half turnovers, not a single one was a result of full-court pressure.
  • Against NC State earlier in the week Carolina had to grit out the final minutes. Not so today. Carolina held a double-digit lead for the final 15:00 of the game.
  • Garrison Brooks’ strong play continues. He now has 20+ points in each of his last four games and after some rough patches from the free throw line this season went 8-for-8 today (22-for-24 over the last two games). Today he recorded his first double-double in the past seven games (26 points / 14 rebounds) and his 11th on the season. Those 14 rebounds gave him a career high. Brooks also tallied four assists and two blocks.

  • Christian Keeling stayed hot and recorded his highest point total as a Tar Heel (18). He has hit multiple threes in three straight games and has reached double-digit scoring in six of his last eight. During those eight games, he is shooting 56.9 percent (41-72) and averaging 13.1 points.

  • Carolina’s free throw woes this season have been well documented, but the stripe was good to the Heels today (15-17).
  • Several injury notes from today. After playing 8:47 Armando Bacot hurt his ankle and did not return to action. We wait to learn of his availability for Tuesday against Wake Forest. Brandon Robinson and Christian Keeling also both had to leave the game with ankle issues, but both came back to play.
  • With Bacot injured and Brooks taking a breather on the bench, the Heels had a stretch where the line-up was Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Brandon Robinson, Justin Pierce, and Leaky Black. It was one of those games where Leaky has played both the one and the five.
  • Given all the scoring issues this year, the Heels are starting to find something of a groove. They have now scored 40+ points in four straight halves. Additionally, they shot over 50 percent as a team today (33-for-64, 51.6 percent).
  • Cole Anthony seems to be really rounding into form. After not shooting 50 percent from the field in a game all season, he has now done so in back-to-back games.
  • The freshman had a strong all-around day. He totaled 25 points and buried a career high seven three-pointers. Anthony also dished seven assists (one off his career high), had two steals, and even blocked a shot. Here’s a look at those three pointers:
  • Justin Pierce’s numbers don’t always jump off the page, but he tends to find ways to make hustle plays. Today he drew two offensive fouls within his first couple minutes of action. Fellow grad transfer Keeling drew one of his own in the first half as well.
  • As tends to happen against the zone, Carolina held the edge in rebounding (39-29). Early in the first half Brandon Robinson skied for an incredible rebound which he dumped off to Brooks for a lay-up.
  • Carolina built their big first half lead behind a 16-0 run (20-2 extended) that took the game from tied at 17 to a 33-17 advantage. Unfortunately, Syracuse responded with their own run of 11 straight points and the Heels eventually took a five point lead into the locker room at the half.
  • Since coming back from his various injuries, Brandon Robinson has struggled to shoot. It was an encouraging sign to see him hit two first half threes today.

  • It’s no secret that these Heels struggle to shoot the three, and the first half today was no different as they connected on just two of 12 attempts. The second half, however, was an entirely different story. Carolina made six in the first six minutes of the second half and finished the half shooting 9-for-14, a blistering 64.3 percent.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is senior night against Wake Forest on Tuesday, March 3. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters: UNC @ Louisville

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 72-54 road loss to Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • With 4:09 remaining in the first half, Cole Anthony made two free throws (the first free throws of the game for either team) to bring Carolina within four (25-21). Louisville outscored Carolina 11-2 over the remaining four minutes before halftime and 11-0 in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second half. That 22-2 run essentially ended the game and the Heels would get no closer than 14 points.
  • At one point in that 22-2 run, Carolina missed 11 straight shots (last two shots of the first half, first nine shots of second half.
  • Carolina knew they would be short-handed in the front court before the game even started, with both Garrison Brooks (illness) and Justin Pierce (ankle) out. With apologies to senior Brandon Robinson and star Cole Anthony, Brooks is the heart and soul of this team and his absence leaves a huge hole.
  • With Brooks out, the starting five were Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, and Armando Bacot. That quintet had literally not shared a single second of court time prior to today. This was the ninth different starting line-up the Tar Heels have used this year, the most of the Roy Williams era.
  • By the time the first media timeout occurred, neither team had attempted a two-point shot. At that point both teams were 1-for-4, all from the three-point line.
  • For the second time this season, only one Tar Heel (Cole Anthony – 18) scored in double-digits. The other instance was against Ohio State when Cole Anthony was also the only double-digit scorer.
  • For three straight games, Cole Anthony has shot 7-for-16 from the field. He has shot under 50 percent in every game this season, other than one, the first game of the season against Notre Dame when he shot exactly 50 percent (12-for-24).
  • Staying with Cole Anthony, part of the reason for his low field goal percentage is shot selection. He seems to have two or three head-scratchers per game. He will certainly grow in this area as his game continues to evolve and mature.
  • Just two Tar Heels had more assists than turnovers. One was Brandon Robinson, with three assists and two turnovers. The other was KJ Smith who had one assist and no turnovers in mop-up duty.
  • Carolina assisted on fewer than 50 percent of their made baskets (10 assists on 21 buckets) and had nearly double as many turnovers as assists (17 to 10).
  • Carolina’s side of the court appeared to have issues with moisture in the first half. Four different Tar Heels slipped in the first 20 minutes.
  • With Brooks and Pierce out, both Walker Miller (8:16) and Brandon Huffman (3:57) saw more playing time than they ordinarily do.
  • It was encouraging to see Andrew Platek hit a couple three-pointers and have a solid all-around shooting day (3-for-5 FG, 2-for-3 3FG, 1-for-1 FT).
  • Carolina played three possessions of zone late in the first half. The results were a wide-open lay-up, a three-pointer, and a dunk. Needless to say the zone didn’t come back out in the second half.
  • The Tar Heels bungled multiple fast break opportunities today. Not enough that it would have changed the outcome of the game, but would have perhaps put game pressure on Louisville.
  • In a season where the walk-ons haven’t received as much playing time as they normally would, it was encouraging to see them get a couple minutes including a great pass from KJ Smith to a cutting Caleb Ellis for a lay-up.

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 25. Tip is at 9:00pm ET on ESPN.

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Notre Dame

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-76 road loss to Notre Dame on Monday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Déjà vu? Nope. Groundhog day? Nope. Time travel? Nope. We really do keep witnessing the same miserable ending over and over again. Yes, most of the blame is on the Tar Heels for their play down the stretch in these losses, but how can you help but feel awful for these young men?

  • This was a game of runs. The Heels missed eight shots in a row in the first half, allowing Notre Dame to take a nine-point lead. Thankfully Carolina was able to get the lead down to three at the half. Notre Dame scored the first bucket of the second half but Carolina went on a 13-0 run to take an eight-point lead (19-3 extended run). Notre Dame eventually went on their own 9-0 run to cut the lead to five. The Irish kept chipping at the lead, but never led until the final bucket with :02.4 to go.
  • This was also one of those “Carolina-had-this-big-a-lead-with-this-much-time-left” games. The Heels held a 15-point lead with 8:15 remaining, a nine-point lead with 4:15 to go, and a four-point lead with the ball and just 66 seconds remaining. Another way to look at it: Carolina led from 16:35 of the second half until Notre Dame hit the kick-out three for a 77-76 lead.

  • Carolina will look back and rue several things, including two failed defensive rebounds in the final 90 seconds which both directly led to Notre Dame points.
  • Were the Tar Heels victim to another incorrectly adjudicated foul situation (for the third time in a late-game scenario)? Cole Anthony air-balled an ill-advised three with :21 left. Leaky Black nearly tracked down the offensive rebound, but was called out of bounds as he attempted to save the ball. Black’s right foot was clearly out-of-bounds, but only because he was quite clearly bumped by Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski. If called, that would have been Laszewski’s fifth foul and he would not then have been able to hit the game winner (because he would have fouled out and because Leaky Black would have shot two free throws for a potential four-point lead). Here’s the play in question:

  • Much can and will always be said about Cole Anthony. He led all scorers tonight with 23, and despite some interesting decisions down the stretch posted his best assist-to-turnover ratio of the season at 6-to-1.
  • It’s interesting that Carolina was on the brink of a victory despite Armando Bacot scoring just two points (the first Tar Heel bucket of the second half). The freshman reeled in a typical 10 rebounds, but will need to contribute more offensively.
  • Leaky Black continues to put up productive, and diverse, stat lines. Tonight he recorded double-digit rebounds (10) for the first time in his career. He’s had at least one assist, block, and steal in five of the past six games. Black also contributed nine points tonight, including a no-hesitation three-pointer and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
  • Garrison Brooks continues to be the most consistent performer on the year. He has back-to-back 20+ point games for the second time this season (22 tonight). Unfortunately, Brooks took exactly one shot (1!) over the final 8:30 of the game. The team has to find a way to continue getting shots for its best offensive players in crunch time. A very similar thing happened with Garrison Brooks during the stretch of the Duke game.
  • Christian Keeling’s double-digit scoring streak stopped at four games, but he managed nine in this one including the first bucket of the game just five seconds in.
  • The starting line-up was the same for the second game in a row with Christian Keeling taking the spot Andrew Platek had been occupying. However, Brandon Robinson was back tonight after missing four games. Robinson came off the bench to play 25:24. The starting five going forward will likely include two of Christian Keeling, Leaky Black, and Brandon Robinson.
  • The Tar Heels got their turnover issues mostly in check tonight. They committed just four in the first half, but added eight in the second half (including several costly turnovers down the stretch). The team got back to having more assists (18) than turnovers (12), however Notre Dame committed just six.
  • Carolina did their usual work on the backboards, routing Notre Dame 47-31, which included 18 offensive rebounds. These rebounds allowed the Heels to double up the Irish in second chance points, 16-8.
  • Similar to the Wake Forest game, Carolina missed just two free throws, both of which came from Garrison Brooks late in the first half. That also means that Carolina made every free throw they shot in the second half, including both ends of 1-and-1 on two separate occasions.
  • Curiously, Andrew Platek only played 4:32. That’s quite the fall for a player who was starting as recently as two games ago.

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 22. Tip is at 4:00pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 64-62 home loss to Virginia on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Well here we go again. Same script for the last three Saturdays in a row: Carolina home game. Saturday night. Comes down to last possession. Tar Heels lose. February 1 against Boston College (terrible foul called against Brandon Robinson). February 8 against Duke (let’s not talk about it). February 15 against Virginia (last second three). These poor Tar Heels just cannot catch a break.
  • Unlike last week against Duke, Carolina made offensive plays down the stretch, including sinking free throws. It’s just that Virginia had one more play in them and Carolina couldn’t make the defensive stop.
  • If you’re keeping track at home, Carolina has lost four of their last five at home (Miami being the lone win). Those four losses have been by a combined eight (8!) total points and two of the games have gone to overtime. You just can’t make this stuff up.
  • The team that showed up tonight was much more the team was saw last Saturday against Duke than the imposters that played in Winston-Salem last Tuesday. They moved the ball better, hustled more, and generally looked like a Roy Williams-coached team.
  • It’s been well documented that Carolina has struggled offensively all year long. For just the third time all season, the Heels hit 50 percent of their shots tonight (25-for-50, exactly 50 percent). And of course that happened against the team ranked 4th in defensive efficiency in KenPom. And of course Carolina still lost.
  • Garrison Brooks’ vision must be much improved from his troubles on Tuesday night against Wake Forest. Even though Brooks wore his goggles again, he scored 20 points tonight, many of which came from the mid-range game. He also made his second career three-pointer. Similar to junior and senior Tyler Hansbrough, if Brooks can continue to consistently hit these deeper shots away from the rim, he will be a very dangerous man. This also opens up more operating room for a more traditional, back-to-the-basket big man.
  • Turnovers were an issue tonight, especially early. As has happened with regularity this season, the team had more turnovers than assists (15-14). Armando Bacot was the main culprit tonight, surrendering five turnovers against zero assists. The freshman was a rebounding machine (16), but found himself in trouble often tonight against Virginia’s pesky defensive scheme.
  • A positive note about the turnovers: The Heels committed their ninth (in their first 19 possessions) with 9:18 left before halftime. However, they cleaned up their act and only committed one more in the half, and six total more for the game.
  • Christian Keeling continues to shoot well and hit double-digits for the fourth straight game. Keeling came up huge in the final minute, burying three free throws to give Carolina a one-point lead with 10 seconds to go. One thing Keeling will need to pay more attention to is getting his feet behind the three-point line. Three separate shots tonight could have been threes if he was just a couple inches further back.
  • Good to see Brandon Robinson back in uniform, although he didn’t play. Today marked the two week point since his injury.
  • Poor Cole Anthony took a shot to the face, just above his eyebrow, and bled a good deal. He just can’t seem to catch a break. After receiving medical attention in the locker room, he eventually came back in. Here’s video of the play:
  • This game moved quickly. Much of that can be attributed to the lack of fouls and foul shooting. The teams combined for just 22 total free throws. The first free throws of the game didn’t happen until 12:30 had already elapsed.
  • Carolina drew three charges in the first half (Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Andrew Platek).
  • As part of the offensive struggles, it’s plainly evident that several players are hesitant to shoot when they get a good look from three. There seems to be a lack of confidence. The open shots are coming within the flow of the offense, but players are reticent to pull the trigger.
  • This turned out to be one of the more fun Virginia games of recent memory. Both teams scored in the 60s. There were seven ties and 16 lead changes.
  • It’s a quick turnaround to playing in northern Indiana on Monday night. The Fighting Irish will also be flying back up after playing Duke on Saturday. Which Tar Heel team will show up?

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 Notre Dame on Monday, February 17. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 98-96 home overtime loss to Duke on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

 

Highlights:

 

  • I sit here on my couch five hours after the game ended and I am still numb. I am still confused. I am still heartbroken. None of that compares to how the players and coaches must be feeling.
  • Bottom line: if you hit your free throws you win this game. Overall, Carolina went 21-for-38 (55.3 percent) at the free throw line. The most painful thing is that the Heels made just five of 10 in the final 1:11 of regulation. If the Heels make any of those five misses, Tre Jones is never in the position to potentially send the game to overtime.
  • Speaking of that end-of-regulation scenario, how (painfully) ironic that it was nearly identical to the end of the Clemson game? Against Clemson, Carolina forgot to foul up three in the waning seconds and gave up the game-tying three. Against Duke, Carolina did foul (maybe a little too quickly) and everything went the Blue Devils’ way to force overtime.
  • Sticking with free throws, you really have to feel for Garrison Brooks. He went 0-for-7 against Boston College. If he makes any of those, Carolina wins. Tonight he went 0-for-5 (including missing the front end of a 1-and-1. If he makes any of those, Carolina wins. Outside of the missed free throws and five turnovers, Brooks played a really strong game. He shot efficiently (9-for-12 for 18 points) and played solid defense on Player of the Year candidate Vernon Carey.
  • Guess how many shots Garrison Brooks took over the final 8:50 of regulation and the 5:00 of overtime? TWO (And both were off broken plays. On the first, Pierce randomly found Brooks in the lane when he got trapped on the baseline. On the second, Brooks received the ball in a late shot clock situation and had to hoist a shot. There were ZERO times when he received an intentional post feed in a scoring position, which had worked so well earlier in the game.
  • How many times has it happened this year? Carolina builds up a double-digit lead, only to fumble it away at the line or with late turnovers. Tonight, the Heels led by 13 with 3:55 left, 10 with 2:10 left, seven with 1:11 left and five points with 20 seconds left in overtime. It’s like there’s this one missing piece, this one play and if Carolina could just get that they would come out on top.
  • Okay, let’s talk about some positive things. We must turn the tide. Christian Keeling is having his best stretch as a Tar Heel. Against Florida State and Duke, two of the best three teams in the ACC, he has scored double digits back-to-back for the first time all season. In those two games he has hit 10 of his 17 shots, two of three three-pointers, and all five of his free throws.
  • Fellow grad transfer Justin Pierce also had a good night, scoring 11 points. The two combined for 24 points in their first ever Duke game.
  • Pierce scored five straight points for Carolina in what looked like it would be the most important stretch and turning point of the game prior to the outcome being what it was. With 1:51 left before halftime and Carolina clinging to a four point lead, Armando Bacot picked up his second foul and went to the bench to join Garrison Brooks and Leaky Black in the two-foul club. Seldom used Walker Miller came in to guard Vernon Carey, who already had amassed 16 points. In those 111 seconds, Carolina stretched the lead to nine (plus-five in this span) with a line-up of Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Andrew Platek, and Walker Miller. Each team had three possessions. Duke missed a three, hit two free throws (Carey), and had a turnover. Carolina had a Pierce lay-up, a Pierce three, and a Platek (incredibly athletic double-pump) lay-up. Holding off Duke in this stretch to close out the front half (and instead expanding the lead) should have been a huge deal, but instead it will be shelved right alongside Marcus Paige’s three in the 2016 National Championship game. Here’s Platek’s lay-up:

 

  • Also lost to history will be Brooks’ block on Cassius Stanley with seven seconds remaining in regulation to stop Stanley from tying the game. In the moment, it felt like a game-saving play. Sadly it will just be a footnote.
  • Despite all three of Brooks, Bacot, and Black having two first half fouls, the Heels managed the foul trouble (mostly) wisely and none fouled out in regulation (although Bacot and Black both did in overtime). In his postgame comments, Bacot lamented that he could have secured one of the free throw rebounds had he been in the game. Roy Williams pointed out that Leaky’s defense on Tre Jones would have been beneficial when Jones put the Duke team on his back.
  • Let’s go back to Walker Miller. What must have been going through his head when Bacot fouled out, Brooks was back in the locker room with an injury and he had to step to the free throw line in a tie, overtime situation against Duke? Miller made one of two (although the first nearly dropped as well) to give the Heels a one-point lead which would not be relinquished until the final six seconds of overtime.
  • Duke landed the first punches in overtime, taking a five-point lead just one minute into the extra session. While it appeared the Heels might be out of gas, they responded with an 11-1 run to take a five point lead with 20 seconds left. Unfortunately they never scored again and the Blue Devils reeled off seven straight for the final 98-96 tally.
  • You never want to blame the refs (especially when you miss 17 free throws), however the previously mentioned Duke 7-0 run was helped by an egregious no-call with 12 seconds left and Carolina up one. Brooks inbounded the ball to Platek, who was bumped, resulting in the ball going out of bounds and being awarded to Duke. So rather than shooting two free throws with 12 seconds left and leading by one (with a chance to go up by three), Carolina had to defend, which lead to the game-winning play. Here’s the no-call:

 

  • Andrew Platek will be quite frustrated with himself for shooting 1-for-4 from the free throw line at the end of regulation and feel like he cost the team the game, but he did some great things. Earlier in the second half, he hit both parts of a one-and-one. On two important plays in the second half, he doubled on Carey, who spun right into the waiting Platek. The first occurrence resulted in a Duke turnover. The second time Carey bulldozed Platek and picked up his fifth foul.
  • As strange as it sounds, Vernon Carey fouling out was a blessing in disguise for Duke. The freshman big man scored 18 in the first half, but had as many points as I did in the second half (zero). He fouled out with Carolina up 13 (77-64) and over the course of the final four minutes of regulation, Duke outscored the Heels 20-7. Carey’s absence opened up the floor for Duke to attack off the dribble, which they did at will.
  • So many good things to be said about what happened in the first 37-38 minutes of the game. Carolina played with intensity. They moved the ball well: assists on 10 of the first 14 field goals. They had a balanced scoring attack: seven Tar Heels scored multiple baskets in the first half and five finished in double-figures. They gang rebounded: seven players had four or more rebounds. Every time Duke punched or threatened, Carolina answered. They were disruptive on defense. Bacot ran the floor really well. On more than one occasion, I uttered: “That’s a Carolina fast break!” Here’s a great example of one of those fast breaks (Kendall Marshall pitch-ahead style):

  • Cole Anthony felt like he was more in the flow of the offense tonight. There was more cohesion. He took fewer shots, made a higher percentage of those shots, got more teammates involved, grabbed 11 rebounds, and hit nine of his 10 free throws. Of course he’s only played 12 college basketball games, so he still made some freshman mistakes. One in particular came with 2:00 left in regulation. Carolina was up nine and Duke applied pressure. Anthony got sped up and didn’t pull the ball back out when he got across the timeline to run some clock, but rather pushed on towards the basket for a difficult and contested lay-up. Duke quickly converted the miss into a three-pointer. Down to a six-point lead with 1:45 to go. From there the game turned into the parade to the free throw line, which we already know how that turned out.
  • As has happened seldom this year, the Tar Heels both hit the 80-point plateau (and in fact scored a season high 96) and achieved a 50 percent field goal success rate. In fact, the first half Carolina shot 59 percent and scored 44 points (the most Duke had given up in a first half this season).
  • Leaky Black played a solid and diverse game before fouling out. He finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and a career-high nine assists; just a few plays shy of a double-double. Black also seems to have a knack for hitting the first shot of the game. He’s done so multiple times this season, and did so again tonight.
  • Something to keep an eye on: Tonight we saw Leaky Black play some point guard, and Cole Anthony slide over to shooting guard. Not sure if it will be a look Coach Williams employs more, but could be a good wrinkle in the offense.
  • A painful number to see: Carolina led the game for 41:50. Duke led for just 1:47. The game was also tied for 1:23.
  • Just to say it again: Carolina had a double-digit lead as late as 2:07. Very (very) eerily similar to the Clemson loss.
  • Joel Berry was honored at halftime tonight and his jersey hung in the rafters. Great to have him in the house for a game where his late-game sure-handedness and clutch free throw making ability would have come in handy. Here’s video of the halftime ceremony:

 

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 Tuesday, February 11. Tip is at 8:00pm ET on ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
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Quick Hitters – UNC @ NC State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 75-65 road win over NC State on Monday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • How exactly did Carolina follow-up their success from Saturday’s win over Miami when they went on the road to play a potential NCAA Tournament-caliber opponent in NC State? They follow it up with another win. This has to be a great feeling for those young men and coaches who have continued to work tirelessly to get better.
  • As has often been true this season, Garrison Brooks deserves the statistical accolades and top billing, but tonight we must start with Brandon Robinson. This poor guy has had a rough go of it in the 2019-20 basketball season. A sprained ankle in the exhibition game kept him out of the first four games of the year. He missed another just last week recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident. He’s hobbled off the court in multiple other games to get ankles re-taped. Tonight he fought through tweaking his right ankle and some sort of rib injury. On three different occasions he left the court for medical attention. But he just kept coming back, and in total played 29:32. Despite his aching midsection, Robinson secured an important offensive rebound in the closing minutes and, as you undoubtedly saw, nailed four straight free throws to close the game (after his teammates had just missed five straight). Robinson definitely wins tonight’s “tough little nut” award.
  • Okay, now it’s your turn Mr. Brooks. Brooks was an absolute beast out of the gate. He scored the first two Carolina points with 17:10 left in the first half and by the time the clock showed 14:24 he was up to 10 points. Just to make sure you get what a big deal that is – Carolina as a team has rarely scored 10 points in a three-minute span this season and here Garrison Brooks was doing that all by himself. He got back on the double-double train (seven in the last eight games) by finishing with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. What a season this guy is having. Here are some of Brooks’ highlights from tonight:
  • Carolina has been at their strongest when both big men contribute in big ways. Tonight was no different. Armando Bacot had 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. He was a steady 7-for-11 from the free throw line. Bacot’s most impressive stretch was two and-one potential plays just before halftime. He completed the first free throw, but missed the second. But as you might guess (because this is what he always does apparently), Brooks was there for the offensive rebound and putback. Here’s the first of the two plays before halftime:
  • The Heels were one made field goal and five points away from back-to-back games of 50% field goal shooting and reaching 80 points. They shot 49.1% (28-for-57) from the field. Making one extra of those shots would have put the team over 50%.
  • Andrew Platek’s assist-to-turnover numbers were negative (1:2) for the first time since he’s been in the starting line-up, but he contributed in multiple other ways. He played solid defense and contributed eight points (on 4-for-5 shooting). The biggest of those buckets helped push the Carolina lead back to 10 after an NC State surge. The Wolfpack had cut the lead to four with 6:36 left. Platek and Leaky Black both scored and with 3:47 remaining Platek received an outlet pass from Garrison Brooks, found NC State’s transition defense in a state of disarray (even though four of them were back on defense) and promptly drove for an easy lay-up. The Heels never led by fewer than eight points the rest of the way. Here’s video of Platek’s lay-up:

  • Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling didn’t have overwhelming nights, but did contribute seven straight Carolina points midway through the second half to push a three-point lead back to eight.
  • Injury watch: Jeremiah Francis sat out again. Today marked the six-week point for Cole Anthony following his surgery. You have to think he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
  • As I’ve documented, Carolina has pushed to double-digit leads in multiple ACC games that they’ve lost this year. Thankfully, in this one they were able to maintain their lead. Had the Heels held on against Clemson and Virginia Tech, they would be 5-4 in the ACC and tied for fifth, rather than sitting alone in 12th.
  • The possibility of a loss similar to Clemson was present in the closing minutes. Carolina was up 10 with 2:00 to go. Rather than standard turnovers, they missed five straight free throws (three of which were the front end of one-and-ones), which might as well have been turnovers. Unlike Clemson though, NC State couldn’t capitalize and Brandon Robinson sealed the deal. The most glaring difference tonight (at least Roy Williams would say so) is that Carolina had three timeouts for those final minutes.
  • Carolina showed strong road resilience tonight. NC State jumped out to a 7-0 and 9-2 lead. However, the Heels employed traps and quickly tied the game at 12 behind the Garrison Brooks barrage. The basket that tied the game at 12 featured multiple misses and offensive rebounds right at the rim for Carolina before Brooks finally got the tip-in. My family was watching the game at a restaurant and my four-year-old said “miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, HE DID IT!”
  • The Tar Heel resilience allowed the team to grab its first lead at 16-14. They eventually took a 39-35 advantage to the locker room and never trailed in the second half.
  • NC State made a lay-up with 6:36 remaining and didn’t score again until 1:35 remained in the game. Tough to win with a 5:00 scoring drought to essentially close out the game.
  • Despite Brooks’ gaudy scoring numbers, three other Tar Heels reached double figures in the scoring column (Bacot, Robinson, and Black each had 11).

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 Boston College on Saturday, February 1. Tip is at 6:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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

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