Tag Archives: UCLA Bruins

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Yale

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 70-67 home win over Yale on Monday night in the Smith Center.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • With the victory, Coach Roy Williams is now tied with Dean Smith for fourth all-time with 879 Division 1 victories.

  • In true Roy Williams fashion though, it was obvious post-game that all he wanted to do was get off the court to go check on Anthony Harris’ knee. Harris has been a welcome spark off the bench. He attacks the rim, plays tough man-to-man defense, and appears to elevate those around him. It was unfortunate to see his right knee buckle as he drove to the basket with 3:05 left in the game. His previous injury was to the left knee. Here’s Jeremiah Francis, who has been rehabbing with Harris, discussing the heartache of seeing his teammate go down:
  • It sounds strange to say, but this late December game against Yale was important for March. Yale is the best team in the Ivy League, so it was critical for Carolina to hold serve at home. This was a victory against a veteran and experienced Yale squad who never went away and had a shot at the buzzer to tie the game. Coach Williams will have several teachable moments from the stretch run.
  • As predicted, Jeremiah Francis started tonight, rather than KJ Smith. Joining him were usual starters Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot. One of the great strengths Francis brings is aggressive driving to the rim. When unable to find a seam, he continues to probe and look for a driving lane or a pass.
  • Just like Carolina, Yale is a strong defensive rebounding team. In fact the teams had 33 defensive rebounds each. The difference came on the offensive glass, where the Heels dominated Yale 15-to-1.
  • Carolina had just eight turnovers. In starting his first collegiate game, Francis had five assists and just two turnovers. No moment has seemed to be too big for him. In fact, he was the one standing at the free throw line down the stretch of the game. He hit a lay-up (plus the and-one foul shot), hit both ends of a one-and-one, but missed his final foul shot to give Yale the aforementioned opportunity to shoot a potential game-tying three at the buzzer.
  • An important factor in the victory: Zero of those eight turnovers came against Yale’s full court pressure. You might recall that the Heels struggled against UCLA’s pressure last Saturday. Tonight, in 10 possessions against full-court pressure, Carolina never turned the ball over.
  • The Tar Heels shot a more respectable 12-for-17 (70.6%) from the free throw line. You would love to see that number rise even higher, but anything in the seventies is a win.
  • Tar Heels have now played 13 games to open the season without shooting 50% in a single game. Tonight’s number was 36.6% (26-for-71).
  • Anthony Harris was not the only injury tonight; This team just cannot catch a break on the injury front. Andrew Platek was in street clothes thanks to an ankle injury. Christian Keeling rolled his ankle while saving a ball midway through the first half (he was thankfully able to come back). At one point in the second half, athletic trainer Doug Halverson was looking at Leaky Black while on the bench.
  • As has become custom for the 2019-20 Tar Heels, the first points of the game didn’t go on the board until nearly four minutes in (Bacot free throws at 16:17) and the first field goal after five-and-a-half minutes of game action (14:26).
  • This opening scoring drought resulted in an 11-2 lead for Yale. However, Carolina responded with an 11-0 run to take a 13-11 lead.
  • Carolina’s defensive aggression set the tone for the game. While the stats don’t reveal much (four steals and four blocks), the Tar Heels were active in passing lanes, had multiple deflections, and caused multiple shot clock violations. Unfortunately, Anthony Harris was often the one setting this aggressive tone, and pending the severity of his knee injury, will be out of commission for some time.
  • If you watch the Tar Heels closely on offense, you’ll notice that players are often hesitant to shoot. While yes, this team has struggled to score, it appears that at least part of the issue is mental. At some point, players will have to start unconsciously pulling the trigger.
  • Justin Pierce was a revelation tonight. He was active, confident, and attacked the glass and the basket. Carolina needs Justin Pierce to be this version of Justin Pierce every game. Here’s Pierce talking about his performance:
  • Pierce’s production is especially needed with Armando Bacot struggling as he did tonight. Bacot played just 16 minutes and had just two points (both from the free throw line).

  • Carolina has struggled with surrendering second half runs (19-0 vs. Michigan, 16-0 vs. Wofford, 10-0 vs. Gonzaga, 12-0 vs. UCLA). Yale looked like it would do something similar tonight, scoring the first seven points of the second half. But then Carolina went on a 17-2 run and never relinquished the lead.
  • Garrison Brooks has been the leading scorer in Cole Anthony’s absence, and while Brandon Robinson held that distinction tonight, Brooks continues to be the most consistent Tar Heel. He turned in a double-double with 11 points and rebounds.
  • Robinson was indeed the leading scorer (career high 20 points). Carolina needs someone to shoot consistently and dependably from beyond the arc and Robinson is the prime candidate for this role. He buried five three-pointers in this one.

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 Georgia Tech to kick off the main portion of the ACC conference schedule. The game is Saturday, January 4 at 6:00PM ET on the ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UCLA (CBS Sports Classic)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-64 neutral site win over UCLA on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas at the CBS Classic


  • A win! We’ll get to the hard-hitting analysis in a minute (yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek), but first let’s stop to celebrate the joy of winning. It wasn’t pretty. It won’t win the ESPY for “Best Game”. But it was a victory. And coming on the heels of a four game losing streak, the Tar Heels will take a win any way they can get it. Against both Gonzaga and UCLA, Carolina really competed hard. If this trend can be the new norm, these Tar Heels will win some ACC games.
  • Let’s start with a perhaps unpopular opinion: Having now seen Jeremiah Francis in action for a grand total of four collegiate games, (1) he pushes the ball better than Cole Anthony and (2) the offense appears more organized with Francis at the helm. This is no dig at Anthony, but rather an observance of the different skill set both players bring to the table.
  • In Anthony’s absence, the emergence of recently healthy freshmen Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris has been a boon for the Tar Heels. The two were vital to Carolina’s success today and are bringing a toughness quality to Carolina. More on both players…
  • Francis is showing glimpses of being able to confidently and consistently run the team from the point guard position. He was money from the free throw line today (9-for-10), including being selected to shoot the technical free throws. He made a freshman mistake with 1:45 left in the game. With Carolina ahead comfortably compared to the remaining time, Francis drove in for a lay-up rather than pulling the ball back out to re-set and run clock. In subsequent positions, Brandon Robinson demonstrated how to do this well, which Anthony Harris took a cue from and did as well on the very next possession. Those are errors you can live with because it’s a kid (who hasn’t played in two years, by the way) being aggressive.


  • Harris played just three minutes in the first half and had a memorable defensive stop right before halftime (UCLA had been driving at will and Harris walled off his mark twice on the same possession, leading to a turnover). However, he exploded in the second half, playing nearly three-quarters of the half, and was just the spark Carolina needed. Known more for his defensive acumen, Harris provided eight straight points for Carolina (a steal and lay-up, back-to-back threes) in one stretch.


  • As the Tar Heels amassed a rather sizable lead, I thought to myself, “When was the last time the Tar Heels had a double-digit lead this season?” Great question. It was nearly a month ago, November 27 against Alabama.
  • Interesting minutes distribution. As predicted, KJ Smith got the start at point guard, but Jeremiah Francis got the starter’s minutes (28-10). Look for Francis to start for the first time when the Heels return to action at home against Yale.
  • The past two games have yielded “Gonzaga Bacot” (bad and foul-laden) and “Wofford Bacot” (also quite bad). “Oregon Bacot” is the player Coach Williams wants to see on a consistent basis. Thankfully today against UCLA, Armando was “Oregon Bacot”. After going 3-for-20 from the field in those previous two games, Armando Bacot went 5-for-7 against UCLA for 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
  • After missing the second half of the Gonzaga game, Brandon Robinson returned to action today. Robinson, Bacot and Black are all still banged up in one way or another. Hopefully the large gap before the next game (Mon., Dec. 30) will allow some ailments to heal.
  • 5 different Tar Heels scored in double-figures – Bacot (15), Harris (14), Brooks, Robinson, Francis (all had 12). This balanced attack is an encouraging sign.


  • Carolina has been absolutely terrible recently at the start of the “third quarter” (first 10 minutes of the second half). Today’s version included a 12-0 UCLA scoring run to cut Carolina’s 13-point halftime lead to just one.
  • In the most un-like-Roy-Williams thing ever, the Heels were down to just one timeout with 16:07 remaining in the second half. Coach took a timeout with 18:01 remaining to stem the UCLA run. Then Garrison Brooks had to take the penultimate timeout with 16:07 because he couldn’t inbound the basketball against UCLA’s full-court pressure. Carolina struggled with UCLA’s pressure throughout the second half (that’s putting it nicely) and will certainly need to spend practice time on breaking the press.
  • Brandon Robinson hit three important three pointers in the first half. However he didn’t make another basket the rest of the game.
  • I mentioned earlier that this was an ugly game. Some numbers to prove it: UCLA had 14 first half turnovers. For the game, the teams combined for a total of 39 turnovers. The second half was plagued by so many fouls. In total, 46 fouls were called in the game. The Tar Heels put the Bruins in the bonus with 15:37 left in the game.
  • Not much to show from either grad transfer today. Neither reached double-digits in playing time and Pierce and Keeling combined to score five points. These young men will find their place on this team. It’s just taking longer than anyone hoped or expected.
  • Some old friends were in the house for this one:


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 Yale on Monday, December 30. Tip is at 7:00ET on ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Gonzaga

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-81 road loss to Gonzaga on Wednesday night in Spokane.

Condensed Game:


  • Give credit where credit is due: This is a really good Gonzaga team. They were too much for a depleted North Carolina squad, and quite frankly are better than the Tar Heels even at full strength. The environment in “The Kennel” was electric. As is often said, kudos to Coach Williams for his willingness to go play a true road game in Spokane. If nothing else, Carolina played tough and fought to stay in a game they could have easily lost by 30.
  • Leaky Black, who is considered game-to-game as he deals with a foot injury, played tonight. However the Tar Heels were dealt other blows. After a lackluster first half, Brandon Robinson missed the second half with some type of illness that kept him in the locker room after halftime. Armando Bacot committed two fouls in the first 67 seconds of the game and was essentially a non-factor.
  • KJ Smith once again started for Cole Anthony, and was serviceable, but the real revelation has been Jeremiah Francis. How does someone not play for two years with knee issues and then suddenly come out like a wrecking ball? Francis played 22 minutes, scored 11 points, shot 2-for-3 from deep, had two steals, and perhaps most importantly, had three assists and zero turnovers.

  • Another Tar Heel coming back from a knee injury, Anthony Harris had a nice game. He had eight points on efficient shooting numbers and had a nice steal at the free throw line.
  • Perhaps Christian Keeling has finally turned a corner. He scored in double digits for the first time as a Tar Heel (12), and did so on 5-for-7 shooting, while also grabbing some rebounds (3) and dishing a couple assists (2).
  • The other grad transfer, Justin Pierce rebounded from scoreless outings against Virginia and Wofford to score seven points.
  • The best Tar Heel tonight was Garrison Brooks. In 31 minutes, Brooks scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, had three assists, two steals, and just one turnover. Brooks needs to continue delivering these type of performances.
  • For the first time all season, the Tar Heels scored 80 or more points (81). Granted, the second half of this game didn’t feature much stellar defense and Carolina still didn’t look like a great shooting team.
  • Carolina’s bench nearly doubled their previous season high scoring number. Carolina had 28 against UNC-Wilmington thanks in large part to Justin Pierce’s 18. Tonight, the Heels scored 53, contributed to by eight different players. As further evidence of tonight’s bench usage, 10 different Tar Heels played 10 or more minutes, while 12 played five or more. Keep in mind, these numbers coming with a dwindling roster.
  • Carolina’s defense struggled mightily tonight against KenPom’s number one rated team in adjusted offensive efficiency. Corey Kispert shot 10-for-12 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from three, for 26 points.
  • As a team, Gonzaga shot 72.0% on field goals in the second half. During one stretch, the Bulldogs hit 11 straight field goals without a miss. Those numbers are simply unacceptable.
  • For large portions of the game, the offense looked absolutely discombobulated. This is likely a function of weird combinations of players who have spent little to no time functioning together as a five-person unit. To get an idea of the issues, watch the spacing between the players on the floor Saturday when Carolina plays UCLA.
  • An example of the strange line-up combinations. From 2:59-1:07 of the first half, Carolina sported a line-up consisting of Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, and Justin Pierce (with KJ Smith eventually coming in for Francis). Who is the center in that combination?
  • After starting the season 3-for-19 (15.8%) from three, Andrew Platek has hit four of his last five. Coach Williams has spoken about his quality shooting in practice, so hopefully the fruit of that will start showing up in games.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a the CBS Sports Classic against UCLA on Saturday, December 21. Tip is at 3:00ET on CBS.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Elon

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 75-61 home win over Elon on Wednesday night in the Smith Center.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • Elon led this game 32-33 at halftime. Carolina opened up the second half with an 8-0 run which extended to a 16-2 run, and eventually 21-5 for a 53-38 lead. At that point it appeared the Tar Heels would run away with the game; building as big as a 16-point lead with 5:50 remaining. But Elon stripped the lead to seven in the waning minutes, before Carolina pushed back to the final 14-point cushion. This type of “cruise control” down the stretch is not an option for the 2019-20 iteration of the Tar Heels.
  • The schedule is about to get much more difficult. Next up is Alabama. Then Iowa State or Michigan. Then Gonzaga (#8), Southern Miss, Seton Hall (#13) or Oregon (#11). Then Ohio State (#10). Then at Virginia (#7). After a (hopeful) breather at home against Wofford is at Gonzaga (#8) and UCLA. Yikes. That means four of the next seven games could be against top 10 teams.
  • The Tar Heels had some obscene numbers in the frontcourt categories. Carolina outrebounded Elon by 31 (THIRTY-ONE!). The tally was 56-25. Additionally, Carolina held a 46-14 advantage on points in the paint.
  • With Cole Anthony struggling to score tonight (which was bound to happen eventually), another player had to step up offensively. What a perfect time for Armando Bacot’s breakout game. The freshman big man finished with a career high in points (22) and rebounds (14). He now has back-to-back double-doubles. The Tar Heels will need this consistency in the aforementioned upcoming stretch against higher-level competition.
  • It seemed like Elon was going to set the world on fire after hitting their first five shots (four of which were three-pointers), the Phoenix went just 5-for-22 the rest of the half; including not making a field goal from 9:42-2:03.
  • Elon’s shooting woes caused them to be the latest victim against Carolina’s defense. Get this: no opponent has shot 40% or better on field goals in a single half so far this season. Here are the numbers to prove it:
    • Notre Dame (11-34 | 32.2% and 13-34 | 38.2%)
    • UNC-Wilmington (12-34 | 35.3% and 13-38 | 34.2%)
    • Gardner-Webb (10-27 | 37.0% and 11-30 | 36.7%)
    • Elon (10-27 | 37.0% and 10-36 | 27.8%)
  • An anomaly to the early season: Carolina has not yet hit the 80-point mark in a game (76, 78, 77, 75). Conversely, none of Carolina’s opponents have scored more than 65 (65, 62, 61, 61).

  • Free throw shooting still needs work. Tonight Carolina was 14-for-23, 60.9%
  • Bacot teamed with his frontcourt counterpart Garrison Brooks to score nearly half (36) of Carolina’s 75 points. No other Tar Heels scored in double-figures.
  • Cole Anthony came ever-so-close to recording just the third triple-double in Carolina history. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. For the record, Jason Capel and Brendan Haywood were the others to do it, and both happened within 13 days of each other in the 2000-01 season.

  • The Cole Anthony “rebound-and-run” is a great fast break and should pay dividends all season long. A couple examples from tonight’s game were a pitch ahead to a streaking Andrew Platek for a lay-up and a dish to Christian Keeling for a three.
  • The team is still learning to play defense together, but they are quite obviously buying-in on the defensive end. Some first half examples: Platek rebound in traffic with 13:00 remaining, block and save by Anthony at 10:30 left, keeping the dribbler in front and blocking his shot by Keeling at 5:30, nice footwork by Bacot after getting switched onto a guard with 4:39 left, and Cole Anthony drew an incredible charge on a one-on-one fast break with 4:21 before halftime. Here is the charge:

  • Kenny Smith, Jr. entered the game with 1:30 remaining and Carolina holding a nine-point lead. An interesting move from Coach Williams to get the point guard some “game pressure” action. Certainly a forward-looking move.
  • Still no Brandon Robinson. Coach Williams mentioned in his radio show this week that he would love to get Robinson some game action before the Bahamas trip, but it wasn’t meant to be. The depleted Tar Heels’ line-up could certainly use his presence for the three-games-in-three-days slate during Thanksgiving week.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Battle 4 Atlantis, in the Bahamas. First game is against Alabama on Wednesday at 2:30ET on either ESPN or ESPN 2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Wake Forest on Saturday, February 16. Tip is at Noon ET on Raycom.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UCLA (Las Vegas Invitational)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-78 victory on Friday afternoon over UCLA in the Las Vegas Invitational.


  • I must be honest, during the first half I was prepared to say that this game was essentially just a continuation of all the same issues from the Texas game (and the first half was). I could have said, “I don’t need to write Quick Hitters tonight, just re-read last night’s.” I had the early season tournament cliché all lined up: “It’s always said of these mini tournaments that a really good team is going to leave 0-2. Unfortunately in this instance, that team was Carolina.” But then the second half happened and I had to scratch all of that.
  • I was curious to see how Coby White would follow up his big night. Was the 33-point explosion just a foreshadowing of things that would come later in the season or the new normal? White responded by scoring 10 of Carolina’s first 17 and finished with 19 total points on 6-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-7 from three. While 19 is certainly less than 33, this was a more impressive performance because he didn’t just create for himself but also dished out eight assists to teammates (against only two turnovers). This balance of scoring and assisting is exactly what Coach Williams will be looking for. All-in-all a great two game stretch from the freshman point guard.

  • The one thing White struggled with was foul trouble. Seventh Woods was still out with a concussion, so Leaky Black once again handled the back-up point guard minutes. Thursday night, the offense severely bogged down with Black running the show. While his stat line wasn’t gaudy against UCLA, he didn’t turn the ball over, had two assists and scored five points on 2-for-3 shooting. Black is gaining valuable experience and looking more comfortable running the team. His best play came early in the second half. With UNC up 55-54, Black blocked a shot (the ball hit the backboard first; it was an obvious goal tend…shhhhh don’t tell anyone), corralled the loose ball and threw a court length bounce pass to Kenny Williams for the fast break layup. Here’s that sequence:

  • Carolina has committed double-digit turnovers in every game thus far, including 18 and 17 in the previous two games. White turned the ball over on the first possession of the game and we appeared to be headed for more of the same. However the Heels committed only four more the rest of the half and just one in the second half for a season low of six.
  • The senior trio of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cam Johnson struggled mightily shooting against Texas. Those woes carried over into the first half of the UCLA game. However in the second half they shot a combined 10-for-12, totaling 30 of Carolina’s 53 points.
  • It’s been well documented that Kenny Williams has been struggling with his shot this year (although had a great shooting performance against UCLA). Rather than sulking, he’s found a new way to contribute offense by turning himself into Theo Pinson-type play maker. Prior to this year, Williams averaged 1.6 assists per game. This year he’s averaging a career-high 4.7 assists per game and 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. Here’s to hoping there will be a lot of Tar Heels pointing at Kenny Williams throughout this season.

  • Johnson was on fire after halftime, scoring the Heels’ first nine points. The most impressive of which was his second bucket. After burying a three on the previous possession, he could have easily decided to hoist another, but wisely chose to drive baseline for a lay-up. He followed up that play with a steal on UCLA’s next possession, which he quickly returned to Carolina’s basket for two more points. Here’s all three of those plays:

  • UCLA’s 7’1” freshman Moses Brown has had an impressive start to his college career. There was some concern how Carolina’s bigs would handle Brown’s presence. Cutting to the chase, Brown fouled out with 7:40 remaining having only played eight minutes.
  • Garrison Brooks had two under-the-radar-but-very-important plays that you might have missed. One showed up in the box score, the other didn’t. First, UCLA had the ball, up seven, with about 5:30 left before halftime. Brandon Robinson got a steal and Brooks somehow slapped the ball ahead to Coby White for a fast break dunk. No box score assist to Brooks (that went to Robinson for some reason), but a huge play and UCLA never pushed their lead back to double-digits. The other notable play was Brooks’ only two points of the night. The Bruins had cut Carolina’s lead down to seven and fouled Brooks with 7:40 remaining. He stepped to the line, a career 59.5 percent free throw shooter, and calmly sunk both free throws to push the lead back to nine. Here’s the “slap-ahead”:

  • Defense still needs to be cleaned up. The Heels allowed UCLA to hit their first seven shots and nine of their first 11 shots. The Bruins’ first miss came almost five minutes into the game. Once again, staying in front of the ball is of the utmost importance. Carolina played much tougher and attentive defense in the second half, even securing a shot clock violation at 12:19.
  • Nassir Little was in much more intentional attack mode this game; not settling for jump shots. The highlight of the game was his go-ahead dunk at the 12:00 minute mark of the second half, after which the Heels never again trailed. Here’s the dunk:
  • A stat it would be easy to miss, part 1: Brandon Robinson had four assists and zero turnovers.
  • A stat it would be easy to miss, part 2: reserve KJ Smith has scored in every game in which he’s played so far this season.
  • The Las Vegas Invitational promised to teach us a lot about this team. And it did. But there’s still a lot to learn. How would these games have looked with Seventh Woods in the mix? How will the freshmen respond to a true road environment against a strong defensive opponent (Michigan)? Stay tuned because games against Michigan, Gonzaga and Kentucky over the next several weeks will be revelatory.

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 Michigan in the ACC / Big Ten Championship. Tip is on Wednesday, November 28 at 9:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Texas (Las Vegas Invitational)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 92-89 loss on Thanksgiving evening to Texas in the Las Vegas Invitational.


  • First off: Happy Thanksgiving. Hoping you had a wonderful day with family and friends and ate way too much good food.
  • Same story, different chapter of the series versus Texas: Opposing guard goes off (Kerwin Roach, 32 points on 12-for-15 shooting). Texas out-physicals Carolina. Texas out-hustles Carolina. Texas out-toughs Carolina. Texas uses the dribble to get in the lane at will. The Tar Heels have now lost eight of their last nine to the Longhorns. Here’s Kenny Williams providing some senior prospective:
  • You might think that the absence of a back-up point guard isn’t a big deal. You’d be wrong. When Coby White checked out with 14:27 left in the first half, Carolina lead 17-5. Typically Seventh Woods would enter the game at that point and run the team seamlessly. Leaky Black just isn’t ready to do that yet and when White checked back in the lead was down to 23-18. Black projects to be an incredible player for this team, but the offense severely bogged down with the changing of the guard.
  • Turnovers were *yet againa major issue, at least in the first half. The Heels coughed the ball up 17 total times; 14 of which were in the first 20 minutes. Literally all 10 players that stepped on the floor for Carolina had at least one turnover.
  • Okay, let’s talk about something positive. Coby White knows how to put the ball in the bucket and we caught our first glimpse of just how prolific he can be. White poured in 33 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 7-for-10 from deep and 6-for7 from the free throw line. Here’s a look at all his scoring:
  • As out-of-sync as the Heels looked most of the night, they fought to stay in the game and had their chances. Down 80-70 with just under 7:00 remaining, Carolina went on an 8-0 run in under a minute to close the gap to 2. Later, down three with 30 seconds left, Luke Maye had a great look at a three to tie the game, but the ball just wouldn’t stay down. Unfortunately the closest the Heels could get was two.
  • Need a reminder of how every play matters? With 3:30 remaining in the first half and the Heels up seven, Sterling Manley grabbed a rebound and threw his outlet pass to Kerwin Roach who took one dribble and buried a three. Final deficit? Three points. Here’s the play:

  • It wasn’t all bad for Manley. He had two really nice assists to Cam Johnson.
  • As well as Coby White shot, the senior trio of Luke Maye, Kenny Williams, and Cam Johnson were a combined 12-for-33 from the field, including just 2-for-13 from three.
  • After the St. Francis game, I mentioned that Carolina’s bench was outscoring the opponents 194-66. The bench only contributed 18 tonight.
  • Defense has been something of an issue all season. However against inferior competition, the problems have been masked. In the second half, Texas shot 62.5 percent from the field and from three. To put it bluntly, that just won’t cut it against either the rest of the non-conference schedule or the ACC gauntlet.
  • Despite winning the total rebound battle 41-32 and the offensive rebound battle 15-9, the small line-up surrendered some ill-timed offensive boards to Texas.
  • A final positive note: Congrats to Cam Johnson for reaching 1,000 career points combined between Pittsburgh & Carolina.

  • Despite the loss, the most painful part of the night for this writer? My wife is a Longhorn.

  • 2ndmost painful part of the night? We’re going to the Texas football game on Friday where I will be cheering for the Longhorns.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational against the loser of UCLA/ Michigan State on Friday afternoon. Tip is at 4:00ET on FOX.

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The Road Less Traveled

As you look at North Carolina’s 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule, something curious jumps off the page about the first two games. The Tar Heels are beginning their season by playing back-to-back true non-conference road games – against Wofford (who won in the Smith Center last year) and Elon.

“What is Roy Williams thinking?” you ask yourself. “Major programs like Carolina don’t have to take road games. They can get anyone they want to come to Chapel Hill.”

Here’s the thing: playing away from home in the non-conference part of the schedule actually isn’t a strange phenomenon or outlier for Coach Williams and the Tar Heels.

But just how does Carolina’s scheduling stack up against programs of a similar ilk?

Why go on the road?

Of the country’s historically successful major college basketball programs, most only venture away from home when they absolutely have to. Some coaches will argue that conference and NCAA Tournament games are all played on a neutral court, so it’s pointless to schedule true non-conference road games.

To only look ahead to postseason tournaments, however, is to miss the mark. Half of the regular season conference match-ups are true road games. The results of these games play a huge factor in conference seeding, which ultimately helps determine a team’s seed in the NCAA Tournament. To fail to test your team on the road in the non-conference portion of the schedule is to set them up for failure when they go on the road in conference games.


To determine how the Tar Heels compare to other programs in this metric, I examined the 10 winningest programs of all time. I looked at the past 10 schedules for each of these programs (from the 2009-2010 season through the upcoming 2018-2019 season) to determine which teams were willing to go prove themselves outside the friendly confines of their home gym. To be included, a team had to have been in a BCS / Power 5 conference for each of those 10 seasons. This stipulation ruled out Temple (#5), St. John’s (#9), BYU (#12) and Utah (#14).

The list is therefore whittled down to these 10 (in order of all-time wins):

  • Kentucky (#1 | 2,263 wins)
  • Kansas (#2 | 2,248)
  • UNC (#3 | 2,232)
  • Duke (#4 | 2,144)
  • Syracuse (#6 | 1,884)
  • UCLA (#7 | 1,870)
  • Notre Dame (#8 | 1,866)
  • Louisville (#10 | 1,825)
  • Indiana (#11 | 1,817)
  • Arizona (#14 | 1,796)

Which teams are willing to consistently schedule true regular season non-conference road games?

What do the schedules reveal?

After studying each program, one team stands out above the rest. Below is the total number of true non-conference road games each of the programs scheduled during the 10-year period evaluated (from most to least):

  • North Carolina – 24
  • Arizona – 19
  • Louisville – 17
  • Kansas – 16
  • Kentucky – 13
  • Indiana – 11
  • Syracuse – 10
  • Duke – 9
  • UCLA – 9
  • Notre Dame – 7

Additionally, there are interesting takeaways concerning these blue-bloods and their scheduling of true non-conference road games (or lack thereof) strewn throughout the research.

In the 10-year span…

  • Carolina is the only team of the 10 to have multiple true non-conference road games in each of the 10 seasons.
  • Carolina is the only team to amass more than 20 true non-conference road games.
  • Carolina has four seasons (including each of the last three) with three true non-conference road games. No other team on the list has more than one.
  • In five of the 10 seasons evaluated, Duke and Notre Dame have scheduled precisely 0 (ZERO!!) true non-conference road games.
  • For the past eight years, Duke has only voluntarily scheduled two true non-conference road games. Those were both at Madison Square Garden, which only technically counts as St. John’s second home arena.
  • Notre Dame has by far the most putrid total of true non-conference road games with seven. Of those seven, only four were voluntary. The other three are all Big 10 / ACC road games.

Take Aways

Last season, I wrote a piece about Carolina’s road success in conference games over the previous seven years. Prior to last year’s 4-5 conference road record, the Heels had recorded seven straight seasons of a winning conference road record. Meanwhile, the rest of the conference fell miserably short of that level of success.

Think that type of achievement is pure happenstance? Think again. The road to success in conference road games is paved in the non-conference portion of the schedule. By exposing his team to hostile road environments early in the season, Roy Williams is preparing them to succeed away from home when it matters most – on the road in the country’s most difficult conference. The road to success is a road less traveled.

For reference, below is a table with each team’s true non-conference road games over the past 10 years: