Tag Archives: Syracuse Orange

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 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 vs. NC State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 85-79 home win over NC State on Tuesday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Can’t underestimate the role the crowd played in the victory. How cool that a full (and loud) crowd will turn out for a 10-17 team to play a late game on a school night. Really grateful for the Carolina faithful. It felt really good for the Tar Heels to get a big win tonight against an in-state rival who is currently vying for an NCAA Tournament birth. Hopefully the Heels can build on this momentum!
  • For a moment, this game had the makings of the same story line we’ve seen time after time in this 2019-20 season. Carolina held an 11-point lead with 8:00 remaining and still a 10-point lead with 5:00 to go. However, NC State cut the lead to three with 2:00 remaining. Unlike other experiences though, the Heels were able to make winning plays down the stretch, including going 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 0:40.
  • The most consequential stretch of the game came after NC State opened up a seven point lead with 14:45 left in the game. The Heels responded with a quick 9-0 spurt from 13:51-12:12. That run extended out to 22-4, giving Carolina a 67-56 lead with 8:33 to play.
  • There was question about Garrison Brooks’ ability to play after the illness he had been suffering from and the eight pounds he lost as a result. It’s safe to say he did just fine. Following in the lineage of recent Pack-killers Marcus Paige and Luke Maye, Brooks dropped in 30 points and nine rebounds. If you’re keeping track at home, that 55 points against NC State this season.
  • Brooks was also able to exorcise some free throw demons this evening. After going 0-for-7 and 0-for-5 from the line respectively against Boston College and Duke respectively, Brooks went 14-for-16 tonight including making six out of six in the final 0:41. The junior big man did his best Tyler Hansbrough impersonation by getting four separate and-ones (three of which he converted the free throw).
  • Let’s not forget that NC State jumped out to a 10-0 lead while making their first four shots (13-2 extended). During that same stretch Carolina was busy turning the ball over five times in the first 3:30. The Heels eventually settled in and ran off a 9-0 over the course of two minutes from 15:40-13:45 to cut the deficit to 13-11.
  • After the Wolfpack’s initial 10-0 lead, the Heels clawed back to take a 38-37 lead off a Garrison Brooks shot in the paint with 1:00 to go before halftime. After a sloppy sequence from both teams, a Leaky Black lay-up at the halftime buzzer made it 40-37 Heels at the half.
  • NC State foul trouble in the first half contributed to Carolina’s ability to get back in the game. Three important Wolfpack players (Hellems, Bates, and Daniels) each picked up two fouls before halftime. While Carolina didn’t take advantage as much as they would have desired, they were able to grab the lead.
  • Cole Anthony had an under-the-radar 19 points. This is a tell-tale sign of the freshman starting to settle in to the game, getting teammates involved, and then calling his own number when the time is right. He also did a great job in getting back on defense during a NC State fast break which allowed Christian Keeling to catch up and block the shot from behind.
  • Speaking of Keeling, what a night for the grad transfer! Before the Louisville game, he had not hit multiple threes in a game this season and now he’s done so in back-to-back contests. Keeling poured in a total of 16 points and the 6’3” guard was second on the team in rebounds with seven.
  • Keeling has now scored in double-digits in five of the past seven games (and he had nine in the two in which he didn’t hit double-digits). He’s averaging 12.4 points per game over that seven game stretch. It’s been really fun to watch Keeling find his offensive stride in the latter part of the season; you just wish it could be for a more successful team in terms of wins and losses.
  • Armando Bacot was curiously ineffective tonight against the Wolfpack, despite having registered a double-double against them in the first meeting in Raleigh. The freshman only played 13:26 total, and just 5:36 in the second half. Bacot picked up his second foul with 10:54 remaining in the first half and never really seemed to find his stride after that.
  • The victory loss kept Carolina from tying the 1950-51 team for the longest losing streak in program history.
  • It’s worth noting that both teams were sloppy with the ball early. They combined for 12 turnovers in the first seven minutes.
  • Carolina did all of this tonight while shooting just 3-for-16 from three.
  • One of the big factors was offensive rebounding (surprise, surprise). Carolina hauled in nearly double what State did (13-7) and held a similar edge in resulting second-chance points (13-6).
  • Carolina scored 80 points for just the fifth time all season. Interestingly, it was only the second win in those five games (Miami being the other occurrence).
  • Justin Pierce didn’t have an overly impactful game in the scoring column but he did snag four offensive rebounds, got three steals, and had two assists. It felt like both he and Keeling were all over the court. It showed in the final tally. Carolina was +25 with Pierce on the floor and +24 with Keeling on the floor.

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 Syracuse on Saturday, February 29. Tip is at 4:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Virginia

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 56-47 road loss to Virginia on Sunday afternoon in Charlottesville.

DISCLAIMER: I know you’re ready to freak out. Carolina has lost three of four. They haven’t looked good or in sync while doing so. The injuries seem to be torpedoing this season’s chances. But hear this: Patience, friend, patience. It’s December. This team is trying to work in a lot of new players. This team is trying to get players back from injury and integrate them. This team is trying to find offensive flow. This team is trying to find shooters. All I can say to remind you to be patient is this: There’s a man at the helm of this program that always finds a way. There’s a man at the helm of this program who is currently fifth all time in Division 1 coaching wins. There’s a man at the helm of this program who is already in the Hall of Fame. You don’t achieve these heights without a couple seasons of bringing together a young squad for the good of the name on the front of the jersey. Patience.

Highlights:

Condensed Game:

 

  • Let’s start with some happy things, shall we? Armando Bacot, who appeared to quite severely sprain his ankle against Ohio State on Wednesday and was expected to be out “indefinitely”, was able to not only play, but start against Virginia. No clue how this happened, but his presence was a welcome return. Here’s Bacot talking about how he was able to get back on the court so quickly:
  • In the same vein of comebacks, two Tar Heel freshmen returned from injury to play their first collegiate minutes. Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris, both of whom suffered knee injuries in high school, were able to play (and score) after being cleared. If either, or both, are able to provide backcourt depth and/or the opportunity for Cole Anthony to move off the ball from time-to-time, it will be a big boon.
  • The final piece of good news for this space is that the back-to-back games against the top-two defensive rated teams in the country are now behind us.
  • Of course, against those two teams, Carolina managed to eclipse 50 points exactly zero times. In the Roy Williams era, these have been just the seventh and eighth games in which the Tar Heels have scored under 50. As you can imagine, this is the first time in that period that sub-50 point games have happened back-to-back. Interestingly, all eight sub-50 points have happened since the 2010-11 season.
    • Virginia | 47 | 2019-20
    • Ohio State | 49 | 2019-20
    • Michigan State | 45 | 2017-18
    • Virginia | 49 | 2017-18
    • Virginia | 43 | 2016-17
    • NC State | 46 | 2014-15
    • Syracuse | 45 | 2013-14
    • Boston College | 48 | 2010-11
  • I’m just going to start hitting you with ugly numbers. Ready?
    • The teams combined for 0 (ZERO!) first half fast break points.
    • Carolina had one assist in the first half.
    • Both teams had more turnovers than made field goals in the first half (Carolina 6-5, Virginia 8-5).
    • With 5:49 left in the first half, only one player on either team had multiple made field goals.
    • For the game, Cole Anthony had zero assists and six turnovers. In truth, this is pretty typical for a freshman point guard playing their first game at Virginia.
    • Carolina hit their first (and only) three-pointer of the game with 17:30 remaining in the second half. The Heels shot 1-for-14 on threes for the game (7.1%).
  • The Tar Heels fouled three-point shooters on three different occasions. Truthfully, even doing this one time in a game is unacceptable.
  • The free throw woes continue. Heels shot 12-for-22 today (54.5%).
  • For the second game in a row, the Tar Heels were out-rebounded (this time 37-32).
  • As the season goes along, one of the big keys to Carolina finding success is production from the grad transfers, Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce. Today, Keeling, a known scorer, took zero shots (ZERO!). Pierce shot 0-for-4 from the field. A “zero” in the points column is unacceptable from these two.
  • Both of these teams are inept offensively at this point in their development. The teams combined for two points in the first five minutes of the game and 11 points in the first 10 minutes. Virginia’s first field goal came with 12:48 left in the first half. Carolina didn’t hit double-digit points until 15:00 into the game and had just 18 at the half.
  • The second half started with a veritable offensive explosion – Carolina scored 11 points in the first 4:00. However, the Tar Heels managed just 18 more points over the final 16 minutes.

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 Wofford on Sunday, December 15. Tip is at 4:00ET on the ACC Network.

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

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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. Syracuse

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 93-85 home win over Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Highlights:

  • What a three game stretch. In the span of a week, the Heels have beaten three of the top six teams in the ACC by a combined 42 points and have guaranteed themselves a top three spot in the league with still three games to play. With Duke losing tonight, the Heels have a one-game lead over the Blue Devils and a half game lead over Virginia, who has played one fewer league game.
  • If Carolina wins out, they are assured of at least sharing the regular season title. However, due to the loss to Virginia a few weeks ago, should Virginia also win out, the Heels would be the two seed in the ACC Tournament.
  • On a poor shooting night for several players (Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams and Nassir Little were a combined 10-for-39), it was the free throw line that helped put the Heels over the edge. Those same four players were a combined 22-for-25 on freebies. As a team, Carolina shot 34-for-37 (91.9 percent). This season for the Heels, that is the most made free throws, the highest percentage on free throw shooting and tied for the most attempted free throws.
  • Meanwhile, Syracuse put on a three-point shooting clinic in the first half, including five from Elijah Hughes. However, Carolina did a much better job identifying him in the second half and not only held Hughes scoreless but limited him to two shots.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Coby White is apparently back. After a couple sub-par games White turned in a career high 34 points, including 6-for-11 from beyond the arc and 10-for-10 at the free throw line.

  • A nit-pick on an otherwise incredible night for the superb freshman – White needs to cut down on turnovers. On a night where Carolina as a team only turned the ball over nine times, he was responsible for four of those. In fact, White has committed multiple turnovers in every ACC game this season and is yet to record a turnover-less game in his young college career.
  • If I’m going to nit-pick I also need to heap praise: Coby White is the only (ONLY!!) freshman in the history of North Carolina men’s basketball to record three games of 30+ points. Please stop whatever it is that you’re currently doing, re-read that statement, think about the history of it, let it sink in, and then you may continue reading Quick Hitters.
  • While Luke Maye didn’t have a great shooting night, he did record 12 rebounds (now 16th on the all-time Carolina list with 844) and dish out a career high six assists while operating from what I’ll call the “Brice-Johnson-honorary-2-3-zone soft spot” near the free throw line. He did all that while only surrendering one turnover. Kenny Williams joined him in the “I’m-not-shooting-well-tonight-so-I’ll-do-other-stuff” club, recording five assists, just one turnover and hauling in six rebounds.
  • The contributions of Maye and Williams, amongst others, led to UNC assisting on 19 of 25 made baskets. The Syracuse zone certainly boggles a lot of teams, but Coach Williams seems to always have his team prepared to carve it up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
  • As is also usually the case against the Orange zone, the Tar Heels enjoyed a sizable lead in the rebounding battle. Carolina outrebounded Syracuse 46-25 and finished with more offensive rebounds (18) than Syracuse had defensive rebounds (17). For frame of reference, the Heels missed a total of 37 shots and rebounded 18 of them.
  • Syracuse got off to a hot start (and truthfully played a great game), shooting 6-for-7 to build a 15-6 lead. The Heels responded with an 8-0 run over 46 seconds to cut the lead to one. After that, the game was played very closely with neither team capable of building a double-digit lead until Carolina momentarily did so with 4:32 remaining and again in the last 30 seconds of the game.

  • As you can imagine, with Carolina shooting 37 free throws, Syracuse found themselves in a good deal of foul trouble. Paschal Chukwu, the big man in the middle, picked up two quick fouls in the first half and only played a total of 18 minutes. Additionally, the Heels fouled out two Syracuse players (Elijah Hughes and Marek Dolezaj) in the second half.
  • When Nassir Little decides to attack, he draws so many fouls. There were at least three in the first half. This version of the freakishly athletic freshman makes Carolina a very difficult team to contend with. Little did receive a pretty serious eye-poke in the closing moments of the game. Hopefully it won’t cause any lasting issues and he’ll be ready to go for Saturday’s game at Clemson.
  • Remember earlier in ACC play when Seventh Woods came in the game and didn’t play very well? It seems he’s turned a corner over the past couple weeks as Coby White has had some struggles. Tonight Woods had three assists, zero turnovers and just two points. But the two points gave Carolina a six-point lead just as Syracuse had made a run to close the gap. Two of the three assists then happened in just over the next minute of game time.

  • While the Heels lived at the free throw line, they did a good job of not fouling Syracuse in the first half. They committed only one through the first twelve minutes of game time. The free throw discrepancy in the first half was 19-for-21 for Carolina versus 2-for-5 for Syracuse.
  • The closing of halves has been important in multiple games lately. Tonight was the same. Syracuse held an eight-point lead with 90 seconds to go before halftime. Carolina cut the lead to three and even had a decent look at a three to tie at the buzzer. From there, the Heels went on a 15-3 run to start the second half and build a 58-49 lead.
  • Just because you need it in your life, here’s an absurd dunk from Caleb Ellis during tonight’s pre-game:

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 Clemson on Saturday, March 2. Tip is at 6:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Florida State

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

Highlights:

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

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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Syracuse on Tuesday, February 26. Tip is at 9:00ET on Raycom and WatchESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ 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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