Tag Archives: UNC-Wilmington Basketball

Quick Hitters – UNC @ Gonzaga

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

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • 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. Gardner-Webb

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-61 home win over Gardner-Webb on Friday night in Chapel Hill.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • With the win, Coach Williams is in sole possession of 6th place on the all-time Division I wins list with 874. Next up is Adolph Rupp (5th place – 876) followed by the one-and-only Dean Smith, in 4th place with 879.

  • What was a tight three-point lead at half time ballooned to a 14-point lead early in the second half behind an 11-0 spurt for Carolina out of halftime. While Gardner-Webb cut the lead to as few as four in the second half, the game never felt in doubt.
  • Cole Anthony’s double-double streak to start his career ended tonight, but that allowed Armando Bacot to record his first truly impactful game of the season. There was concern through the week whether Bacot would be available after suffering a head injury last week against UNC-Wilmington. Not only did Bacot play, but he recorded 12 points (on an effective nine shots) and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.

  • While Mr. Anthony did not get a double-double, he did score 28 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. He also showed off an array of silly basketball skills that one human shouldn’t be allowed to possess. Here are some examples:
  • Anthony has a knack for using his hands extremely well on defense. On the second offensive possession Anthony lost the ball but got back on defense and stripped the ball away from the defender. On another play, he was beat by his man in the half-court but reached over the ball handler’s head to pin the ball against his chest and ultimately out of bounds to Carolina.
  • Here’s another example: It’s not often you see your shooting guard throw an alley-oop to your point guard, but such is life when Cole Anthony is your point guard. Late in the game, with the Heels on the break, Christian Keeling threw the lob to Anthony for the emphatic flush. For your viewing pleasure:

  • How about one more example: Cole Anthony is a very nice safety net in late shot clock situations. One instance in particular, late in the shot clock Anthony had the ball on the left wing. Everyone in the Smith Center and all the fine people watching at home knew what was coming. Yet even with two Gardner-Webb players bearing down on him, Cole Anthony buried a three.
  • Anthony and Bacot combined to score 40 of the 77 points (I’ll save you the trouble of pulling out your calculator – that’s more than half). You love to see that type of immediate offensive production from your freshmen. But more consistent threats will have to emerge for the Tar Heels to reach the heights they all want to reach.
  • You know that thing of how Carolina usually dominates on the glass? Tonight was no different. The Heels were +19 in rebounding margin with the totals sitting at 44-23.
  • Gardner-Webb struggled to score early in both halves. Identically so, in fact. The Runnin’ Bulldogs first points of each 20-minute segment came with 15:26 remaining.
  • To that end, Carolina certainly has things to work on, on the defensive side of the ball. However, Carolina has held each of its first three opponents to under 40% shooting. All six halves and all three games in total have been under 40% field goal shooting. Tallied together, Carolina’s opponents have shot 70-197 (35.5%) on field goals.
  • One thing is clear early on about Justin Pierce: he has taken Roy Williams’ exhortation to pound the offensive glass to heart. The graduate transfer currently leads Carolina with eight offensive rebounds.
  • Garrison Brooks wasn’t as productive tonight as he has been in the first couple games. He did, however, have a steady six points, six rebounds, and five assists. The numbers dip tonight can be attributed to foul trouble, which appeared to prevent Brooks from ever getting into a steady flow.
  • Speaking of Brooks, he apparently must have drunk some Luke-Maye-improve-your-free-throw-shooting juice. Maye showed steady growth through his career (42.9%-57.9%-62.4%-77.4%). Brooks has done the same, going from 58.7% his freshman year, to 63.9% last year, and is currently shooting 82.4% on the young season.
  • On a similar note, the Tar Heels were much improved tonight from the line, thanks in large part to Anthony’s 11-for-13 performance. After shooting 58.8% and 53.3% from the line in the first two games, Carolina bounced back to shoot 76% tonight.
  • Christian Keeling had his most productive game as a Tar Heel. He missed the first shot of the game and air-balled another three-pointer a couple minutes later. Coach Williams continues to show perseverance in the matter, running a set play for Keeling to start the second half. Keeling buried a 15-footer to start the second half scoring. Keeling scored nine, had four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal – all highs for his Carolina career. On of the assists was this great pitch-ahead to Garrison Brooks:
  • Oh yes, about one of those Christian Keeling blocks. With just under two minutes left in the game, Keeling chased down the play and swatted the ball from behind with authority. With Anthony and Keeling both measuring at 6’3”, it gives Carolina a nice size advantage on the perimeter. Here’s the block:
  • The second half was extremely foul-laden. Watching the game, it felt reminiscent of the second half of the 2017 National Championship game.
  • Andrew Platek needs to improve defensively in terms of keeping the dribbler in front of him. That said, he was everywhere on the court. He didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but he did contribute nine points. He got loose balls. He made solid outlet passes. He showed veteran leadership, talking to Christian Keeling after a play. Platek’s body language shows that he’s becoming more confident on court – willing and ready to take a shot (like the one that pushed the lead back to seven after Gardner-Webb had just cut it to four), drive to the basket, or rotate around on help defense.
  • One of the funnier moments of the game occurred with 14:40 remaining. Bacot established great post position. Leaky fed him. Turnaround right hand baby hook. Good. Coach raised his hands for a good while as if to say, “Do you see what good things happen when you get the ball inside?” The gesture was certainly not lost on the Tar Heels.
  • Update on “Injury Watch 2019”: Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis, and Anthony Harris are all still in street clothes. Brandon Robinson was in uniform, but isn’t expected back til around the trip to the Bahamas. Outside of Robinson, Coach Williams has said that Harris is the closest to coming back.

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 Elon on Wednesday, November 20. Tip is at 8:30ET on ACC Network Extra.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
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Quick Hitters – UNC @ UNC-Wilmington

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-62 road win over UNC-Wilmington on Friday night.

Highlights:

 

  • While it hasn’t always been pretty in these first two games (which is to be expected given all the newcomers and injuries), Carolina is now 2-0, with an ACC Conference win and a true road win on their resume.
  • Same as last year’s games to start the season at Wofford and Elon, you aren’t going to find many (if ANY) other major conference teams who will voluntarily play a true road game in a tiny gym at a place like UNC-Wilmington. This is the genius of Roy Williams: Go play in a tough place in November to prepare your team for the rigors of road games (10 of them now) during conference play. There’s a reason the Tar Heels almost always have a winning road record.
  • Against Notre Dame, only seven players saw significant court time. Cole Anthony played 37 minutes and Garrison Brooks played 39. This was due to a combination of playing an ACC opponent to start the season and injuries to multiple Tar Heels who would otherwise be on the court. Tonight’s game, plus the next two (Gardner-Webb, Elon) should all allow Roy Williams to tinker with line-ups, get more players into the game, and not have to play anyone 35-plus minutes.
  • Some of that planned minute-management went down the drain tonight when Armando Bacot took an elbow to the head midway through the first half and was held out the rest of the game. According to Coach Williams’ postgame comments, team medical personnel are concerned about a potential concussion. Here’s video of the injury:

  • Getting back to odd line-ups, remember to withhold your exasperation as you see strange combinations playing together. That’s precisely what these games are for. As always, Coach Williams is preparing his team for March, not November and December. Finding the right mix of personnel on the court now is essential for ultimate success later.
  • Three different Tar Heels logged double-doubles: Cole Anthony (20 points, 10 rebounds), Justin Pierce (18 points, 12 rebounds), and Garrison Brooks (18 points, 12 rebounds).

  • While it’s hard to believe, this is actually Brooks’ first career double-double. He was one rebound shy against Notre Dame. If Brooks can average around 10 and 10, combined with his stellar defensive play, he will put his team in a good position to win.

  • While Anthony’s showing wasn’t as dynamic or efficient as his first collegiate game, he did finish with the previously mentioned points and rebounds, plus three assists, two steals and one block. His main issue tonight was inefficient shooting; 3-for-12 on two, 4-for-11 on threes and curiously 2-for-7 from the free throw line. And he can also do this:
  • In fact, free throws are an issue that just about the entire team needs to work on. Through two games, Carolina is shooting just 26-47 (55.3%) as a team. Oddly enough, other than Andrew Platek who is perfect on two attempts, Garrison Brooks (a career 61.6% free throw shooter) is leading the team (10-for-13, 76.9%).
  • The Tar Heels hoped for more production out of their grad transfers tonight and they got it in spades from Justin Pierce, who did a little bit of everything tonight, including cementing his double-double before the halftime buzzer sounded. Pierce’s points and rebounds have already been mentioned, but what was impressive was the way in which he went about both. The points came on an efficient 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from deep. Of his 12 rebounds, half were of the offensive variety, which you know his coach loves. Pierce also chipped in two assists and a block, while not turning the ball over. Here’s Pierce talking about his performance:
  • Christian Keeling, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten untracked yet. He appears to be pressing too hard. He’ll find his way though. He’s too good of a scorer to be held down for long. Stick with him Tar Heel fans!
  • Carolina enjoyed a size advantage over UNC-Wilmington, but was unable to take full advantage. The Heels did win the rebound battle, but only by a margin of six (54-48). The Seahawks actually outscored Carolina in the paint, 34-30.
  • Carolina is doing a good job rebounding with a balanced approach. In both games, at least four players have had seven or more rebounds.

  • After surrendering 18 turnovers against Notre Dame, Carolina was able to cut that number in more than half tonight (eight). No single player had more than two turnovers.
  • Andrew Platek has quietly put together back-to-back solid performances. He is averaging seven points, had a career high four assists tonight, and looks much more confident than at any point in his first two seasons. He will need to continue to play “high IQ basketball minutes”, especially while other members of the backcourt rotation work to get healthy.

  • Brandon Huffman played 7:30 tonight. He had four points and four boards. If Sterling Manley is unable to play this year, either Huffman or Walker Miller will have to provide valuable minutes. Huffman seems to be in the lead at this early point in the season.
  • Curiously, for a large chunk of the first half, Carolina had taken more threes than twos. For example, 11 of the first 21 shots were behind the arc. Some of this is Bacot’s absence, some of it is 2019’s style of play; but whatever the case the Heels need to stop settling and get the ball inside more. That’s the progression of the season.
  • The Heels have had some cold shooting halves, particularly the first 20 minutes. Carolina has not eclipsed 32% field goal percentage in the first half of either game thus far. As Cole Anthony settles in, as Brandon Robinson comes back from injury, when Christian Keeling starts to find his mark, when the ball goes inside more, these numbers should start to change.
  • Milestone win:

 

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 Gardner-Webb on Friday, November 15. Tip is at 9:00ET on ACC Network (TV) and the TuneIn App (Radio).

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Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Notre Dame

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 76-65 home win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • Cole Anthony. This kid is as good, if not better, than advertised. There were flashes in the first half, but midway through the second he completely took over the game. 34 points (12-24 FG, 6-11 3FG), 11 rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Those 34 points set the Carolina AND ACC records for most points scored by a freshman in his debut.
  • HUGE to get this win to start the season 1-0 in the ACC, especially with a second ACC game coming in early December at Virginia (a notoriously difficult place to play). Despite those good feelings, being forced to play an ACC game to start the season is an awful idea. That’s two huge missteps by the ACC at the beginning of the new network; the other is choosing specifically Duke Basketball for its inaugural broadcast rather than something encompassing the entire conference.
  • Currently taking bets on whether Cole Anthony (34 points/ 11 rebounds / 5 assists) or Leaky Black (5 points / 7 rebounds / 5 assists) registers the first triple-double of the season.
  • Coach Williams was concerned with Carolina’s ability to rebound the basketball. The result? A 51-31 advantage for the Heels. That number will obviously come down, but a +20 rebounding margin in an ACC game is absurd.
  • With a team that projects to have trouble scoring at times as compared to recent teams, defense will be of utmost importance this year. The length of players like Leaky Black and Brandon Robinson should cause issues for opponents. Carolina held Notre Dame to 35.3% shooting and 29.0% shooting from deep. Garrison Brooks did a great job limiting John Mooney to just 10 points, eight rebounds, and zero made three-pointers (for reference, Mooney hauled in 19 rebounds against Carolina last year and hit six three-pointers two years ago).
  • But Brooks does more than just play defense:
  • Cole Anthony should be transcendent on most nights, but there will be games where he will be cold from the field. When that happens, who will step up? Time will tell. But in the meantime, the aforementioned defense will have to be dialed in every time Carolina takes the court. If the other team can’t score, they can’t beat you.
  • Technically, nine players played in this game. However, Brandon Huffman and Walker Miller each played one minute or less. For a team with injury issues and starting the season with an ACC game, this is to be expected. Would be a big plus to get Brandon Robinson, Sterling Manley, KJ Smith, Anthony Harris, and Jeremiah Francis into uniform.
  • The Tar Heels attacked the interior early in the game, but got away from that as things wore on. As Armando Bacot settles in alongside Brooks, you have to imagine Carolina will continue to pursue buckets in the post.
  • Speaking of Bacot, I present you with two facts concerning the freshman: (1) Bacot is going to shoot a lot of free throws this year. (2) Bacot is not currently a great free throw shooter. He was 1-for-6 tonight from the line. As a team, Carolina was 10-for-17, so taking Bacot’s numbers away, that’s a strong percentage.
  • A couple season “firsts”. Garrison Brooks scores the first points of the season on the first possession of the season with a baby hook on the baseline. Christian Keeling hit the first three-pointer of the season. The first missed free throw of the season was tapped back out for an offensive rebound (Tar Heels doing Tar Heel things).

  • The first five field-goals were scored by five different players (Brooks, Anthony, Bacot, Keeling, Justin Pierce).
  • After making their first three shots of the game, Carolina only hit seven of their final 29 in the first half (31.25%). The second half was a different story though, as the Tar Heels percentage in the second half (62.96%) was double that of the first half.
  • Scary moment early in the first half as Bacot came off with what appeared to be a lower left leg injury. Thankfully he checked back in just a couple minutes later,  immediately recorded a defensive rebound, and then dished an assist to Leaky Black to put Carolina back in the lead.

  • Cole Anthony does a lot of things really well. He had a monster rebound with 7:00 left in the first half. He had a great finish around the rim, and through contact, two minutes into the second half. It will be fun to watch him this season. And enjoy it, because it’s going to be the only one with him.

  • Some other Carolina scoring records to watch this year as it relates to Cole Anthony: Most points in any game by a freshman is 40 (Tyler Hansbrough – 2006 / Harrison Barnes – 2011). The most points scored by a Tar Heel in a single game is 49 (Bobby Lewis – 1965). Most points scored by a freshman in a season is 600 (Joseph Forte – 2000-01).

  • Andrew Platek is going to be an important member of this team. Sometimes scoring. Sometimes just making good, smart fundamental basketball plays. He had eight points, four rebounds, and two assists tonight. You saw several of those good basketball plays tonight: tipping a rebound he couldn’t corral to a teammate, nabbing a couple offensive rebounds, throwing a nice alley-oop to Bacot for a thunderous dunk. Here’s that alley-oop:

 

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 UNC-Wilmington on Friday, November 8. Tip is at 7:00ET on FLO Sports (a streaming service that you will need a subscription for).

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Gonzaga

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 103-90 home win on Saturday night over #4 Gonzaga.

Highlights:

  • What a big-time win in an incredible environment. Yes, Gonzaga is missing a starter and another key player, but they’re still good enough to be top five in the country. While you would love to add win over Kentucky to the résumé next Saturday, taking at least one of these two games is encouraging.
  • Welcome to the 1,000-point club Luke Maye! Maye becomes the 78thTar Heel to reach that milestone. The 1,000thpoint was a free throw tacked on to a dunk that put Carolina over the century mark. In fact, Maye was 7-for-7 on free throws, with the first six coming after being fouled while shooting three pointers. This was not only the Heels’ first signature win of the year, but also Maye’s first signature game: scoring 20 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

  • While on the subject of Luke Maye, it is being said around basketball that his production has “really dropped off from last year”. He’s currently averaging 14.3 points to last year’s 16.9 when he neededto shoulder a bigger portion of the scoring load. He’s currently averaging 10.0 rebounds per game as compared to last year’s 10.1. While his field goal percentage (48.6 to 45.0) and three-point percentage (43.1 to 31.3) are down, his free throw percentage is up almost 20 percentage points (62.4 to 79.5). All that to say – Luke Maye is going to be juuuuuuust fine.
  • With a sample size of 10 games (roughly one quarter of the season), we can legitimately begin to look at season stats. Cameron Johnson is shooting 49.1 percent from deep, exactly 15 percentage points better than last year’s 34.1 percent. Johnson had an absurd night, leading all scorers with 25 on efficient shooting. While his six threes (including a shot-clock-ending desperation heave) were impressive, it was this dunk that was the most memorable:

  • Seventh Woods had a career-high 11 points – by halftime. The junior finished with 14 points. Woods made two three pointers, the first time he’s hit multiple in a game. In fact, two three pointers ties the number he hit in his first two seasons combined. Woods went on a personal 6-0 run over the last 1:16 of the first half to stretch an eight point lead back out to 14.

  • Coach Williams wants to dominate the glass, and dominate the glass the Heels did – 42-21. Additionally, Carolina had 14 offensive to Gonzaga’s five and outscored the Bulldogs by an overwhelming 27-0 on those second-chance opportunities.

  • The Tar Heels had to be that good on the boards to win because they coughed up a season high 23 turnovers, which led to 29 Bulldog points and kept Gonzaga in the game.
  • On several occasions Gonzaga out-Carolina-ed Carolina by getting pitch-aheads to a man streaking down the court behind the defense. This will no-doubt be a point of emphasis in the film room.
  • Much like the UNC-Wilmington game, the Heels showed much better defensive desire and did some things well, while others have room to grow. The want-to seems to be there, and that’s a step in the right direction. That said, as I predicted the final score resembled the UNC-Kentucky regular season game from 2016-17 in which the Wildcats won 103-100 behind 47 points from Malik Monk. In fact, Carolina finished with that exact same total tonight. Let’s just hope this season doesn’t wind up for the Heels the way that season wound up for Kentucky. But just for a reminder of how that season ended for Kentucky:
  • On five occasions in the second half, Gonzaga cut the lead to single digits. But on all five of those instances Carolina responded by scoring the next basket to push the lead back to double-digits. The Bulldogs are a team that can score in bunches, so maintaining the double-digit threshold provided security for the Heels. Although, once again, avoiding live ball turnovers and Carolina-like-run-outs would have placed an even larger cushion between the two teams.
  • Roy Williams has been saying how good a shooting team this is and that it would eventually break out. 13-for-25 (54.7 percent) from deep is a great example of that. Shooting that well from outside on a consistent basis will cover a multitude of sins in other facets of the game.
  • Leaky Black, who is dealing with patellar tendinitis, only played three minutes. But in that time he used his go-go-gadget arms to steal a pass and head in the other direction for an electrifying dunk. Sterling Manley also only scored two points, but it was a nice turnaround jump shot early in the second half.

  • I must unfortunately leave you with a sour taste in your mouth: The execution after the final media timeout left much to be desired. The play included several turnovers, some fouls and some missed clutch-ish free throws. Thankfully, the cushion in this game was large enough to absorb these gaffes, but that won’t always be the case.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago against Kentucky on Saturday, December 22. Tip is at 5:15ET on CBS.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. UNC-Wilmington

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 97-69 home win on Wednesday night over UNC-Wilmington.

Highlights:

  • There are scoring runs and then there are scoring runs. Luke Maye picked up his fourth foul with 17:16 remaining in the game and the Heels up 48-41. You might have been concerned. I was concerned. Should we have been? Nope. The Heels immediately went on a 16-0 run, which extended to an absurd 30-3 run. When Maye checked back in with 9:12 remaining the lead had ballooned from seven to 31 (75-44). Here’s Kenny Williams talking about the 53-point second half explosion:
  • The big concern of late has been the Tar Heels’ (lack of) defense. For the game, Carolina held UNC-Wilmington to 35.5 percent shooting, forced them into 25 turnovers, and scored 34 points off of those turnovers. It remains to be seen whether the defense was legitimately better, or just a product of playing (with apologies to UNC-Wilmington) an inferior team. We’ll get quick answers with the next two games being against Gonzaga and Kentucky.
  • After exploding out of the gate, Cameron Johnson’s scoring has tapered off the last couple games. He rebounded nicely tonight, leading all scorers with 21 points (ties his season high). Here’s Johnson talking about the game:
  • Coby White and Brandon Robinson both sat out the game with injuries. Despite missing those two regulars, nine different players played double-digit minutes. As has often been the case this season, no player played 30 minutes or more.

  • Seventh Woods earned his first career start in White’s absence. He had three assists and three turnovers, a wash. Woods’ biggest contribution was his aggressive play to help grow the lead immediately after Maye went to the bench with his fourth foul.
  • In addition to Woods’ three turnovers, Kenny Williams, Luke Maye, and Nassir Little each also had three. These key players will need to curtail their sloppiness with the ball. The good news is that after nine first half turnovers, the first turnover of the second half didn’t occur until six minutes in.
  • With White out, Leaky Black also played more than usual. He quietly had a rather effective showing – four points (on 2-for-3 shooting), three assists, zero turnovers and two steals. That type of steady play will be important for Carolina throughout the season.
  • Kenny Williams really has become an assist machine. Despite his three turnovers, the senior racked up eight assists. He is averaging 4.9 assists per game this season. For reference to a recent non-point guard playmaker, Theo Pinson averaged 5.1 assists per game last season. As a team, Carolina assisted on 23 of their 37 made baskets tonight.
  • Devontae Cacok is Wilmington’s leading scorer (15.9) and the nation’s leading rebounder (12.3). As you are aware, the Heels pride themselves on rebounding as well. Carolina held Cacok to just six points and six rebounds, as well as just 21 minutes of game action due to foul trouble. It was a classic case of the Heels working to get an opponent’s dominant big man in foul trouble. Overall Carolina won the rebounding battle 49-36.
  • The Tar Heels enjoyed a lopsided 50-16 advantage on points in the paint. Big men Garrison Brooks (seven), Sterling Manley (eight), and Brandon Huffman (seven) each had a meaningful contribution to that tally. Manley also came away with double-digit rebounds (10).

  • Wilmington overcame a 7-0 UNC lead to take a 24-22 lead just over midway through the first half. Carolina responded with a 10-0 to take a lead they would never relinquish.
  • KJ Smith desperately tried to get a three in the closing seconds in order to help Carolina hit the century mark, but couldn’t get one to stick. No biscuits. They’ll have to wait for another day.

Roy Williams postgame press conference (make sure to listen to the story at the end about former President George H.W. Bush who recently passed away.):

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Gonzaga on Saturday, December 15. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN2.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Michigan (ACC / Big Ten Challenge)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 84-67 road loss on Wednesday to Michigan in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge.

Highlights:

  • Two years ago the Heels played in a similarly tough road environment at Indiana during the ACC / Big Ten challenge. Things didn’t go well in that game either. However, as you’ll recall that season turned out just fine. Patience. Roy doesn’t play for November. Roy builds for March.
  • Coming into the game, the main story line was Carolina’s top-notch offense against Michigan’s stingy defense. Unfortunately it was the Tar Heels’ defense (or lack thereof) that received top billing. Never doubt Coach Williams’ ability to rally the troops, but defense is currently an area of serious concern. Pick-and-roll and back door cuts, in particular, yielded several wide open lay-ups for Michigan.

  • Kenny Williams appears to be heating back up. In the past two games he’s shot 9-for-15 from the field and 5-for-9 from three while averaging 13 points. He’s done this while maintaining his defensive prowess and dishing out nine assists with just one turnover. Here’s Williams talking about tonight’s game:
  • Similar to the Texas game, Carolina started off hot, hitting four of its first five shots and amassing a quick 10 point lead in the first eight minutes. The Heels hung with Michigan the entire first half, but Michigan pushed the lead to 12 before the first media timeout of the second half and never looked back.
  • Luke Maye recorded his second double-double of the season, grabbing 15 rebounds to go with 11 points. The other starting big man, Garrison Brooks had a sneakily solid 10 points and seven rebounds.

  • Michigan’s style of defense forces a lot of one-on-one basketball. The Heels didn’t do a great job of moving the ball tonight and wound up assisting on only half of their made baskets (13 of 26).
  • On the plus side, while Michigan’s defense is tough, Carolina had its second-lowest turnover output of the season (10). In a true road environment, that’s an encouraging number. Over the past two games the Heels are averaging eight turnovers. That’s a number Coach Williams can live with.
  • While the total score of 67 was a season low, Carolina’s 35 first half points is the most Michigan has given up in the first half all year. The Tar Heels are going to be able to score all year, but some nights that shots won’t fall as frequently and the defense will have to be ready to pick up the slack.
  • Great to have Seventh Woods back from injury. He completed an and-one within his first two minutes of returning to action. His years of experience provide a steadying hand at the point guard position. Woods didn’t move the ball as well as he had been doing prior to his concussion, but he’ll get back there quickly.

  • Michigan’s unheralded (and ambidextrous) freshman Ignas Brazdeikis is impressive. He led all scorers with 24 points. Brazdeikis seems to genuinely enjoy the game and is fun to watch. Michigan has already slaughtered Villanova at Villanova. This Wolverines team might be better than last year’s national runner-up.
  • It was a tough offensive night for Cam Johnson and Nassir Little. The first and fourth leading scorers on the team finished with a combined nine points. Johnson didn’t score his first point until 13 minutes into the second half.
  • As per usual, 11 different Tar Heels entered the game in the first half. As early as the first media timeout, the entire second unit (Seventh Woods, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, Nassir Little and Sterling Manley) was in the game. It should be noted that Michigan took its first lead with this group of five on the court. 13 different players were used in the meaningful minutes of the game, including Brandon Huffman and KJ Smith. As often happens when he’s unhappy, Coach Williams benched all five starters for a four-minute stretch of the second half. I’ll say it again: ROY IS COACHING FOR MARCH. BE PATIENT.

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: Michigan came into the game shooting 33 percent on three-pointers for the year. They drilled 11 of 22 for 50 percent shooting against Carolina. Texas just had a similar shooting performance against Carolina on Thanksgiving.
  • The Tar Heels are averaging 14.29 offensive rebounds per game, but had just one at halftime. A strong second-half effort got them to 13 for the game and overall out-rebounded Michigan 43-34.
  • In a hostile road environment, a lot of teams would pack it in after a poor performance and falling behind by as many as 22. However, an 11-0 Tar Heel run cut the lead to 11 with 5:30 remaining. Andrew Platek missed a lay-up to further cut the deficit to nine. After that, Michigan pushed the lead back to 18. The good news: these Heels have fight in them. They just need to show it from the tip and show it on defense.
  • In case you care: The ACC tied the Big Ten 7-7 in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge. The Big Ten has 14 teams so one ACC teams sits out each year. Also, it’s time for a name change Big Ten. Because you have 14 teams.
  • The night in a nutshell:

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 UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday, December 5. Tip is at 9:00ET on ESPN2.

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