Tag Archives: Virginia Tech Hokies

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Boston College

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 71-70 home loss to Boston College on Saturday evening.

Condensed Game:


  • If there was any remaining hope for an NCAA Tournament birth, this loss was likely the last nail in that coffin. The goals now for this team are to continue to get better throughout the remaining 10 conference games, look to make an ACC Tournament run, and the hopefully play in some type of postseason tournament.
  • In the recent games that have come down to one possession at the end (Clemson, Virginia Tech, and today), the Tar Heels just haven’t been able to make a final winning play. That said, in each instance there were multiple plays and scenarios earlier in the game that could have mitigated the necessity for a game-winning shot.
  • As was much publicized over the past couple days, Cole Anthony returned to action today. He didn’t start, but did play 25 minutes. Anthony was clearly rusty coming out of the gate and out of sync with his teammates on multiple occasions. The star freshman shot a perfect 14-for-14 from the free throw line, had 26 total points, five rebounds, three assists, and just one turnover.
  • One question coming into the game was, “How will the starting line-up be affected by Cole Anthony’s return?” Today’s answer: “It wasn’t.” Anthony will certainly be back in the starting rotation sooner than later, but not in this first game back. Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, Brandon Robinson, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot, who have started the last several games together, did so again today.
  • Jeremiah Francis was also able to return to action today, however he played just 2:39 and only in the first half. The coaching staff is clearly taking a cautious approach to his health.
  • A Tar Heel who was not quite as fortunate today on the injury front was senior Brandon Robinson. With Carolina clinging to a one-point lead and 17 seconds remaining, Robinson fouled Jared Hamilton on a three-point shot. When the players came to the ground Robinson once again sprained his right ankle (in addition to fouling out). No determination yet on his timetable to return. P.S. So as to avoid a fine, we’ll stay away from decrying the foul call on this play:

  • Carolina got Boston College’s starting backcourt into some serious foul trouble (thanks mostly to Cole Anthony’s attacking of the rim), but could not finish the job of fouling out either player. Duke transfer Derryk Thornton, in particular, was (ahem…forgive me for the upcoming cheesy dad joke) a thorn in Carolina’s side. After he picked up his fourth foul with 10:06 left in the game, Thornton scored or assisted on 20 of Boston College’s remaining 23 points.

  • Despite a hot start to the game and another double-double (his eighth in the last nine games), what Garrison Brooks will likely remember most from this one (and be most frustrated by) is his 0-for-7 mark at the free throw line (all in the second half). While the missed free throws didn’t lose the game, it will be hard for Brooks to reconcile that making just two of those shots would have won the game.
  • Even with picking up his fourth foul with 8:32 remaining, freshman big man Armando Bacot also secured a double-double (his third in a row and fourth in the last five games), finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Bacot continued his improved free throw shooting, achieving a 7-for-8 mark.
  • Brooks and Bacot once again dominated from the tip, scoring or assisting on Carolina’s first 10 points. However, Cole Anthony checked in right around this time and took six of Carolina’s next 10 shots. Anthony will need to find a way to mix his ball-dominant style of play with the pound-the-ball-inside approach that has given Carolina success of late.
  • The Tar Heels won the rebounding battle, 42-35 and dominated the offensive glass 16 to seven. Despite that dominant advantage, Carolina held just a nine to eight lead in second chance points. The offensive rebounding advantage only translates to a full advantage when Carolina converts second chance points at a high rate.
  • Assist numbers were way down today. The Heels managed just nine on 22 made baskets. In fact, the team committed more turnovers (12) than they dished out assists (nine).
  • With Anthony and Francis back in the line-up, Carolina now has the capability to comfortably go nine-deep into the bench. Unfortunately, with Robinson’s injury and unknown return, that depth may once again be in jeopardy.
  • Sterling Manley and Anthony Harris were both on the bench in suits today. It was encouraging to get to see both players able to sit with their team during the game. Hopefully, they will be able to push each other as they work diligently on their respective recoveries from leg injuries.
  • Boston College built a ten-point lead (48-38) with 12:12 remaining in the game. Carolina responded with an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to get back in the game. The game was back and forth the rest of the way, with neither team leading by more than three over the final 5:00.
  • There was an eerily similar to the end of the Clemson game feeling that took place at the 3:00 minute mark. Hanging onto a three-point lead, Carolina gave up a jumper and promptly turned the ball over on the inbounds pass. The Heels forced a missed shot but couldn’t secure the rebound and wound up surrendering another basket and the lead. At that moment there was a twinge of “Oh no, not again!” in my head. Here’s the first part of that sequence:

  • Despite not pulling out the win, there were several strong plays down the stretch. Justin Pierce had an incredible tip-in off a Cole Anthony miss. A couple of possessions later, Brandon Robinson had a nice drive and lay-up to grab a one-point lead. On the next possession, Bacot found Brooks for a lay-up plus the foul. Brooks missed the foul shot, but Carolina got the offensive rebound, resulting in two of Cole Anthony’s 14 free throws. Here’s video of the Pierce tip-in:

  • The inexperience of working a player back in reared its ugly head in the final three Tar Heel possessions. In each of those, Boston College went to a zone defense. On two of the three possessions (including the final shot), Cole Anthony took a contested late shot clock three that missed. On the other possession Cole Anthony split the defense for a runner in the lane. Not once in those three possessions did Brooks or Bacot have an opportunity to make a winning play inside. Here’s the final play:

  • Back to the drawing board. The Tar Heels have a tough week ahead of them. They face a quick turnaround in Tallahassee on Monday night against Florida State before hosting Duke in the Dean Dome on Saturday.

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 Florida State on Monday, February 3. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ NC State

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

Condensed Game:


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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Boston College on Saturday, February 1. Tip is at 6:00pm ET on ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Miami

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-71 home win over Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:


  • Congratulations to Coach Roy Williams who, with today’s victory, passed Coach Dean Smith for fourth in all-time Division 1 career coaching victories (880 to 879). Feels good to have that out of the way, doesn’t it? Hopefully with that monkey off the back, Carolina can get things going. If you didn’t have a chance to read my article about Coach Williams and Coach Smith, you can do so here.
  • Happy birthday to me! I turned 36 today and Carolina broke their five game losing streak (and six game ACC losing streak). Perhaps, for good luck, I should celebrate my birthday every day the Tar Heels play.
  • As weird as it sounds to say, this was Carolina’s first win in the month of January 2020. The Heels’ last win was against Yale on December 30.
  • The big Tar Heel lead allowed Coach Williams to limit the minutes of some of the starters, Garrison Brooks in particular. Brooks played 27:19 today, marking the first time he’s been under 30:00 since game eight of the season against Ohio State. The reason minute-reduction was so important is that Carolina turns around and plays at NC State on Monday.
  • Brooks’ double-double streak ends at six games. At first blush, this is a disappointing statement. However, I would suggest to you that this is good news, because it means his teammates are helping carry the load. It’s nice for Brooks to not have to shoulder so much.
  • His frontcourt partner, Armando Bacot, on the other hand did record a double-double. In fact, Bacot’s line was very nearly a triple-double as he finished with 19 points (on efficient 8-for-11 shooting), 12 rebounds, and seven assists. For good measure, Bacot added two blocks and had just one turnover. Here’s one of the seven assists:

  • After missing the previous game with soreness from his car accident, Brandon Robinson returned to action today and scored a career high 29 points. He did so on just 16 shots, including an impressive 6-for-10 from three. Here’s highlights of Robinson’s performance:
  • Finally! For the first time all season (this was game number 19), the Tar Heels shot 50% or more for the entire game. The 55.0% (22-40) shooting in the first half was a great mark, but the 62.1% (18-29) in the second half brought the final tally for the game up to 58.0% (40-69). The individual half percentages clock in as the second and third highest numbers of the season, behind only the 64.3% (18-28) Carolina shot in the second against Notre Dame in the season opener.
  • If you shoot that strong a field goal percentage you also probably score a whole truckload of points. That conjecture turned out to be factually correct. Carolina obliterated their previous season high (83 vs. GT) by finishing with 94 points. The Heels passed the previous mark on a Justin Pierce three-pointer with 6:01 left in the game. Today was just the third time Carolina has eclipsed 80 points this season, but the first time to do in a victory. Here’s Pierce’s three that set the new season mark:

  • Over the course of the last four games, Andrew Platek has moved into the starting line-up and amassed 17 assists against just four turnovers in those games. For the season, his assist-to-turnover ratio is an absurd 3:1.
  • Bacot’s free throw shooting has grown dramatically through the season. Through the first 12 games of the season, he was shooting 54.2% (26-48). In the seven games since he has shot 78.6% (22-28) to bring his season average to 63.2% (48-76).
  • If you watch enough North Carolina basketball, you’ll learn that Roy Williams teams typically move the ball rather adroitly against zone defense (which the depleted Miami roster employed for most of the game). Today was no different. Carolina assisted on 17 of 22 made baskets in the first half and finished with a season high 32 assists on 40 made baskets. For the game, nine different players recorded an assist. 32 assists is also tied for the most ever in a game in the Roy Williams era.
  • The Carolina “missed-games-due-to-injury” meter is now up to 61 missed games through 19 games played. Jeremiah Francis was once again in street clothes today. The Heels got no sympathy from Miami though, as the Canes are going through similar woes and only had six scholarship players available on Saturday. One of those missing-in-action was Chris Lykes who has wreaked havoc the past couple years against the boys in baby blue.
  • The Tar Heels dominated the glass 41-21. They were also efficient at getting offensive rebounds and turning them into second chance points (17 points on 10 offensive rebounds). Miami only had two offensive rebounds, the first of which came with 13:07 left in the game.
  • Justin Pierce followed up his strong performance against Virginia Tech by chipping in nine points, five rebounds, and four assists. Fellow grad transfer Christian Keeling also had nine points, and looked more confident today. Both players were just one point away from joining Robinson, Brooks, and Bacot on the double-digit list.
  • Carolina has struggled to hold onto leads of late (lost three of last four after having a double-digit lead at some point in the game). That double-digit lead threshold was reached early today as the Heels jumped out to a 15-4 lead. The encouraging fact is that that lead did not stay stagnant, but rather ballooned to 24 by halftime (the largest lead of the season to that point). Carolina showed good resolve in growing the margin to as much as 34 with around seven minutes remaining.
  • This might be painful to hear, but if Carolina had hung onto two of those losses (Clemson and Virginia Tech, for example), they would be 4-4 in the conference and sitting in 7th place rather than tied for 12th with Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
  • Although the Heels finished the game with 12 turnovers, 10 of those came in the second half with the game well in hand. That means Carolina committed just two turnovers in the opening frame.
  • Three-point shooting was a plus today. Five different players connected from deep (Platek, Keeling, Black, and Pierce each had one; Robinson had six). The final percentage was 43.5% (10-23) and at the point when Robinson hit his sixth three, Carolina was shooting 50% from outside the arc.
  • Leaky Black is starting to hunt for and find his outside shot more and has connected on seven threes in the past five games. It might not seem like much volume, but even the threat of him pulling the trigger creates more space for Carolina’s strongest current assets (Brooks & Bacot) to operate inside.
  • Good to see KJ Smith get back on the court after not playing in the previous two games.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against NC State on Monday, January 27. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-77 double overtime road loss to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game: 




  • Let’s start here: you just have to feel heartbroken for the players and coaches. They are working their butts off, but to no avail (at least on the scoreboard). Given the circumstances (road game, more injuries – including your senior leader, etc.), this was probably the grittiest showing of the season for Carolina. They just couldn’t make the plays down the stretch of regulation to pull out the victory.
  • The war of attrition continues in Chapel Hill. In addition to Sterling Manley and Anthony Harris, who are out for the season, and Cole Anthony, who is still out, Brandon Robinson missed the game with stiffness in his neck relating to his recent car accident. This is now 57 games (by seven different players) missed due to injury in the first 18 games of the season.
  • The lack of depth certainly played a role tonight. Only seven players saw the court, four of whom (Garrison Brooks, Andrew Platek, Leaky Black, and Justin Pierce) played 45+ minutes. Fatigue was absolutely a factor in the outcome. Here’s Justin Pierce talking about the team “running out of gas”:


  • The loss marks the first time in program history Carolina has lost six straight ACC games.
  • Carolina has held a double-digit lead at some point in three of their last four games, only to lose each one. The Heels held a 12 point lead with 12:57 remaining and a seven point lead with 3:35 left, but just couldn’t hang on down the stretch.
  • Despite a size advantage for Carolina, Virginia Tech was able to keep the Heels relatively in check on the glass. Carolina won the rebounding battle, but just 43-39 and only had six offensive rebounds.
  • Unfortunately, free throws once again were a major factor in the loss. Carolina shot 8-for-8 in the first half and the overtimes, but just 6-for-12 in the second half. Amongst those six misses were two misses by Justin Pierce (which fed into an 8-0 Tech run), misses on the front end of a 1-and-1 from both Garrison Brooks and Andrew Platek, and a miss from Leaky Black with 19.9 seconds remaining in regulation which would have given Carolina a three-point lead heading into Virginia Tech’s last possession. A make on any of these five free throws would have been the margin of victory.
  • An unfortunate call that went against the Heels: With 1:35 remaining in the first overtime and Carolina leading 67-65, Leaky Black deflected a pass which Andrew Platek appeared to be on the verge of corralling possession. However, one of the officials blew the play dead, ruled a kick-ball, and awarded possession to Virginia Tech. Big momentum swing. If Carolina had scored there, they lead by four or five points with likely 1:00 remaining.
  • 18 games into the season, Carolina still has not shot 50% for an entire game. The first half showed promise, with the Heels recording a 50% mark in the first half for the first time all season (51.6% on 16-for-31 shooting).
  • For all the talk of the zone Carolina played Saturday against Pitt, the Heels stayed exclusively in their staple man-to-man defense.
  • Some individual performances deserve to be highlighted. First of which is Garrison Brooks. Brooks now has double-doubles in six straight games. He led the team in points (28), rebounds (13), and assists (six). Brooks scored or assists on Carolina’s final 11 points of the first half.
  • Carolina was able to go to Brooks at will in the first half (26 points in the paint), but Virginia Tech defended the interior much more strictly in the second half (just four points in the paint).
  • Another important individual effort was the play and scoring of Justin Pierce. Pierce scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Nine of these points came on three-pointers. His shooting, along with Leaky Black’s three three-pointers, helped to fill the void missing with Brandon Robinson out.
  • Nothing flashy, but Jeremiah Francis had two assists and zero turnovers. Francis also had four points on two nice lay-ups, but also missed another in crunch time.
  • Andrew Platek continues to dish out assists. In his three starts, he has 13 assists and just three turnovers.
  • Leaky Black opened the scoring in both halves of the game by burying a three-pointer. He also had another late in regulation to push Carolina’s lead back to six. If Black or Pierce (or both!) can join Brandon Robinson in making threes, it will free up the paint for Brooks and Bacot to operate.
  • In general, the offense appeared to move with more fluidity. Passes were crisper. The ball didn’t stick in any one spot for too long. As players wore down, this changed, but this movement was certainly true for the portions of the game where Carolina built its lead.
  • The highlight of the game came just before halftime. Carolina had a baseline out of bounds play under their own basket. Garrison Brooks got just the screen he needed and Leaky Black fed him perfectly for a monster dunk, plus a foul. Brooks converted the free throw to push the Carolina lead to 36-28. Here’s the dunk:


  • A big aspect of the second half struggles was Armando Bacot’s foul trouble. He picked up his third foul with 12:59 remaining and Carolina up 12. Tech immediately went on an extended 11-2 run. Bacot then picked up foul number four with 9:46 remaining in regulation. His absence, in a game where Carolina dominated inside, was likely a big part of the reason the Hokies were able to claw their way back and force overtime.
  • We could re-hash a lot of the plays from the end of regulation and overtimes. Suffice it to say that the exhausted Tar Heels had a lot of empty possessions. Garrison Brooks had a good look to win the game at the buzzer of regulation, but couldn’t get the drop. On the previous possession, Virignia Tech had a 56% free throw shooter go to the line and hit both. Bacot fouled out midway through the first overtime, another dagger in Carolina’s efforts to pull out a tough-earned victory.
  • Please keep in mind: these are young men trying their very best. They are working hard, playing through pain, and doing everything they can to win basketball games. It just isn’t happening right now. Will Cole Anthony’s impending return provide any kind of spark? Hopefully so, but we wait to see.

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 Miami on Saturday, January 25. Tip is at 12:00pm ET on ESPN2.

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 66-52 road loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:


  • Carolina has now dropped four straight to start the main body of ACC play. After losing 10 days ago to Pitt in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels once again fell victim to the Panthers and Coach Williams stays frozen at 879 victories.
  • Garrison Brooks is doing everything he can to put Carolina on his back. He now has five straight double-doubles (16 points, 13 rebounds in this one). On the season, Brooks is close to averaging a double-double: 14.4 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.
  • Holding it down with Brooks in the front court, Armando Bacot also turned in a strong performance today. He totaled 12 points and 11 assists.
  • Two glaring statistical issues tell the story of the day; the first of which is turnovers. In the first half, the Heels committed 11 turnovers while making just eight field goals in the same time frame. Five of those turnovers came on five straight possessions midway through the first half. For the game, Carolina had more turnovers (16) than assists (11).
  • The second statistical issue is not a new story: free throw shooting. While difficult to believe, it’s true, Carolina shot UNDER 50 percent from the free throw line today (10-for-21, 47.6 percent). In a season where the team struggles offensively, leaving free points at the free throw line makes it even more difficult to win. Even Garrison Brooks fell victim, shooting just 2-for-8 from the charity stripe.
  • Andrew Platek has now started the past two games and has shown a real penchant for putting his teammates in position to succeed. In the two games he has totaled 10 assists versus just two turnovers, good for an absurd 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • An already depleted team had to finish without Brandon Robinson and Armando Bacot, who both fouled out.
  • The highlight of the day came just over a minute into the game. It was an unbelievably athletic play from Garrison Brooks for Carolina’s first bucket. He contorted his body to lay in an alley-oop from Andrew Platek while someone was undercutting him. Brooks missed free throw but Bacot tipped out the rebound. The ball came back to Bacot who found a wide-open Leaky Black for a three. The gave the Tar Heels a 5-2 lead (the only lead of the day).

  • The good news is that Carolina never stopped fighting and was able to cut Pitt’s lead to 10 with 1:49 left in the game. As we know all-too-well from the Clemson game last Saturday, 10 points in that amount of time can be overcome. Unfortunately, Garrison Brooks missed a wide-open lay-up which would have cut the lead to eight and Pittsburgh pushed the lead back to the final 14 point margin.
  • Some more potential injury concern: Justin Pierce limped off the court with some type of lower leg injury.
  • On the positive side of the injury epidemic: Brandon Robinson was able to start and play 32 minutes despite being involved in a car accident a week ago (although he missed the final 5:55 after fouling out). Jeremiah Francis, who missed the last game, didn’t start but was able to play 15 minutes. Here’s Robinson talking more about his accident:
  • Pittsburgh curiously piled up five fouls in the first 4:40 of the second half. However, even when the Heels got to the bonus, as you know from the previously mentioned free throw statistics, they couldn’t take advantage
  • Pittsburgh shot terribly in the second half: 22.7 percent on field goals and 10 percent on three pointers. Over the final 15 minutes of the game, the Panthers made precisely ONE field goal. Despite all of this ugly shooting, Carolina still only outscored Pitt by six in those 20 minutes.
  • Carolina shot 31.7 percent for the game. That now makes 17 straight games to start the season without shooting 50 percent for an entire game.
  • Curiously, KJ Smith didn’t play. He was in uniform and on the bench. He’s played in literally ever contest this year other than the season opener when he was sidelined with an injury. Is he suffering from an injury? Was it a conscious decision by Coach Williams to cut his minutes?

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 Virginia Tech on Wednesday, January 22. Tip is at 8:00ET on ACC Network.

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

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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.


  • 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 vs. Georgia Tech

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


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

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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Louisville on Saturday, February 2. Tip is at 2:00ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 103-82 home win on Monday night over Virginia Tech.


  • For those who didn’t watch the game, they will look at the box score and say, “Wow what a blow out over a top-10 team!” But as those of us who watched the game know, that would be a completely incorrect assumption. This game began nearly identically to the Louisville game. But instead of folding, the resilient Heels showed what they learned from that previous shellacking, and provided a shellacking of their own.
  • And that shellacking began on the defensive side of the ball with three reserves in the game. The under-16:00 media timeout didn’t come until 13:21 of the first half, with the Hokies leading 19-13. At that point, Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Seventh Woods all checked in. Virginia Tech hit another three for a 22-13 lead, but after that, Carolina began to chip away thanks to defensive pressure mostly provided by Woods. The Heels went on to outscore the Hokies 32-9 in the final 12:30 of the half. Here’s a prime example of turning defense into offense:
  • Virginia Tech had two separate five minute scoring droughts in the first half. Carolina scored 20 straight points during the second of those droughts and forced Virginia Tech into 12 first half turnovers.
  • Coming into the game, Carolina was fifth in the nation in scoring offense (87.3) while Virginia Tech was fifth in scoring defense (59.5). Something had to give. The Heels hit 60 to eclipse Tech’s season average with 15:31 still remaining. The 103 total points was 43.5 over the Virginia Tech season average.
  • Roy Williams has said all season what a great shooting team this is. They have shown that ability in spurts, but tonight was the night the dam broke. The Heels shot 1-for-their-first-12 from deep and it seemed that it would be another dismal shooting night. But then something happened and Carolina hit 14 of their next 18 threes and finished 16-for-34. The 16 made threes is one shy of a UNC record.
  • What a performance from Coby White. He led the team in points (27), rebounds (7), assists (6), steals (4), and blocks (1 – tied with Luke Maye).
  • Nassir Little continues to make strides. He scored a career high 23 points, including two three-pointers. This is the third game in a row in which he’s scored double digits. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. He grabbed six rebounds and had three assists. Oh, and did all of that in just 20 minutes.
  • Potentially lost in the three-point barrage: while Virginia Tech was busy hitting six of their first seven three-pointers en route to building a 22-13 lead, Garrison Brooks scored eight of those 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
  • Two of Virginia Tech’s best players, Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker both picked up three fouls in the first half. Their absence really contributed to Carolina’s ability to not only get the lead, but extend it in the first half.

  • The play that encapsulated the game: with just under 3:00 to go and Carolina up 19, Coby White dove for a loose ball, passed to Luke Maye, who found Kenny Williams, who passed back to Maye, who promptly threw a beautiful lob to Nassir Little for a dunk and his career high 23rd point. Here it is:

  • Another highlight play was Brandon Robinson’s threading of the needle to Kenny Williams with just under 10:00 remaining in the game. Robinson went down hard under the basket in the final minute of the game. Keep your eyes on his status. Thankfully, Carolina has eight days before it takes the court again.

  • Part of Carolina’s ability to climb back into the game in the first half was that they only turned the ball over four times. Nine turnovers in the second half is less appealing, but understandable given a lead of as many as 27 points.
  • Carolina came into the game third in the nation with 19.4 assists per game and dished out 25 more on 36 made baskets.
  • This might seem backwards, but what an encouraging sign that on a night when Carolina scored 103 points, the team’s leading scorer, Cam Johnson, only had eight.
  • Curiously, UNC only outrebounded Virginia Tech 35-32. The Tar Heels entered the game second in the nation with 43.89 per game while the Hokies are 320th in the nation with just 32.59 per game.
  • ESPN commentators have shown a growing disturbing habit during games of talking about anything other than the game. The “Which Williams?” segment in the middle of game action tonight was a new low.
  • Finally, this is the exuberance you love to see of five players having a great time playing together:


Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game over a week away against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, January 29. Tip is at 8:00ET on RSN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Miami

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 85-76 road win on Saturday afternoon over Miami.


  • Don’t overlook what a big deal a 3-0 start on the road in the league is. The Heelswill have six more road games and need just two wins in those games to ensure a winning record on the road in conference.
  • Welcome back Cam Johnson’s shot. After not hitting a three for the past two games, Johnson shot 5-for-7 from deep.

  • Carolina had 26 assists on 33 made field goals. Hopefully James Harden is paying attention. Coby White contributed eight assists, Kenny Williams seven, and Brandon Robinson and Luke Maye each had four.
  • The Heels are tops in the ACC in rebound margin while Miami is dead last. It showed today with Carolina holding a 38-23 margin, including 13 offensive rebounds.
  • In a rotation change, Nassir Little was the first sub off the bench. In his second offensive possession, he corralled a rebound, got fouled and made both free throws. The next possession he found Cam Johnson for a three. The next possession he scored off a Luke Maye assist in the lane.
  • Still no Sterling Manley, for the sixth game in a row. It’s time to start wondering if he will play again this season.
  • Carolina surrendered seven threes to Miami in the first half, but held the Canes to just two in the second 20 minutes. On the flip side, after Miami cut the lead to one in the second half, the Heels hit three-pointers on four out of their next five possessions (two each from Johnson and Williams) to push lead back to eight.
  • Refs missed a shot clock violation on Miami with 11:29 left in the first half and no one seemed to react to it. From still pictures, the ball was clearly still in the shooter’s hand when the shot clock is at zero.

  • Nassir Little had a thunderous dunk driving down the lane four minutes into the second half. Take a look:
  • A balanced scoring attack today for Carolina. Five players were in double-digits led by Cam Johnson’s 22. Most encouraging was a season high 16 points for Kenny Williams, including 6-for-9 shooting and 3-for-5 from deep.
  • This was a tight game throughout, with the only double-digit lead coming for Carolina with less than a minute to go.

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 Virginia Tech on Monday, January 21. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN.

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Worst-Case Scenarios & My Irrational Fears

I have a problem. As the events of a given day unfold, I often play them out to their worst possible ending point in my head. Here’s an example: One day in college, I was playing ultimate frisbee with some friends on campus. About 20 yards beyond one of the end zones that we had marked out with hats and tennis shoes, standing several feet out of the ground like a beacon of impending doom, was an old yellow fire hydrant. The terrible scene that played out vividly in my head? I saw myself streaking downfield to make a diving catch that Odell Beckham, Jr. would have been envious of. The problem was that as I came back down to earth, I impaled my face on the fire hydrant, shattering every bone on the front side of my skull. Gruesome, huh?

On another occasion, I was hiking up a mountain with some friends at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas. We came to a rocky overlook with beautiful surrounding scenery and asked some other hikers to take our picture near the edge. You can already guess where this is headed. The awful scenario that played out in my head this time? As we waited for the picture to be taken, a strong gust of wind pushed me over the edge where I hurtled to my death on the sharp rocks below.

This is my curse. The struggle is real.

Truth be told, I’m actually an optimistic, glass-half-full type of person. I look for the best in people and believe, perhaps naively, that the world is a good place.

My worst-case scenario, doomsday problem also plays itself out in the world of sports. Rather than being disappointed when my favorite college basketball team loses a national championship game on a buzzer-beating three-pointer (oh wait, that happened) or my favorite football team chokes a 25 point lead in the Super Bowl (oh wait, that happened too), I assume the worst – that the North Carolina Tar Heels will lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament or that the Atlanta Falcons won’t even make the playoffs.

With that said, we are coming down the stretch of the college basketball regular season. After every game, I like to play my “worst-case scenario” game with regard to where the Tar Heels could possibly end up in the ACC standings. Earlier this season, when they mathematically could not be passed by last place Boston College, I excitedly told myself, “Even if the Heels lose every game the rest of the season, the worst they can finish is 14th!”

After Carolina’s big win over Louisville on Wednesday night (and Syracuse’s upset of Duke a few hours earlier), I decided to investigate what the Tar Heels’ two game conference lead had earned them in terms of their worst possible seeding for the ACC Tournament.

I decided to investigate what the Tar Heels’ two game conference lead had earned them in terms of their worst possible seeding for the ACC Tournament.

First, some context: The main goal is obviously to win out, get the number one seed, and capture a convincing regular season conference championship. However, if the one seed can’t be had, teams want to achieve at least a top four seed. Doing so earns a double-bye to Thursday’s quarterfinal round.

Here is what my research uncovered: Every ACC team (except Syracuse, Wake Forest, and NC State) has three remaining games. The Tar Heels’ three games are at Pittsburgh, at Virginia, and home against Duke. For this worst-case scenario analysis, the assumption is that UNC loses all three games. Currently sitting at 12-3 in the conference, the worst North Carolina could finish is 12-6. This means that five other teams could potentially finish ahead of or tied with UNC. So we’ve solved it! That was simple. The worst UNC could finish in the ACC is 6th. Not too bad.

But wait, a closer look at the schedules reveals a different truth.

The five teams within striking distance of the Tar Heels are Louisville, Duke, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Miami. The current tiebreaker scenarios concerning Carolina and those teams (ACC tiebreakers are first based on head-to-head matchups, which solves each of these):

  • North Carolina holds tiebreaker over Louisville, Florida State, and Notre Dame.
  • Miami holds tiebreaker over the Heels.
  • In this scenario, Duke beats Carolina on March 4 and therefore holds the tiebreaker over the Heels.

Below is the remaining schedule and current conference record for those five teams (and North Carolina):

North Carolina (12-3)

  • @ Pittsburgh
  • @ Virginia
  • Duke

Louisville (10-5)

  • Syracuse
  • @ Wake Forest
  • Notre Dame

Duke (10-5)

  • @ Miami
  • Florida State
  • @ North Carolina

Florida State (10-5)

  • @ Clemson
  • @ Duke
  • Miami

Notre Dame (10-5)

  • Georgia Tech
  • Boston College
  • @ Louisville

Miami (9-6)

  • Duke
  • @ Virginia Tech
  • @ Florida State

You might notice that Louisville and Notre Dame still have to play each other, meaning at least one of these teams has to finish with six losses and Carolina holds the tiebreaker over both. Therefore, the worst UNC could finish in the ACC is 5th! Solved!

Nope. Not quite yet. Let’s keep digging.

All three of Duke’s remaining games are against teams from this group – Miami, FSU, and UNC. Here is what happens depending on how Duke’s games play out (again, these scenarios assume UNC loses all three of their remaining games):

  • Duke beats Miami and FSU – Miami has at least 7 losses, FSU has at least 6 losses (UNC holds the tiebreaker), and Duke has 5 losses. The worst UNC could finish is 3rd, behind Duke and either Louisville or Notre Dame.
  • Duke beats Miami and loses to FSU – Miami has at least 7 losses, FSU has at least 5 losses, Duke has 6 losses (holds the tiebreaker over UNC). The worst UNC could finish is 4th, behind FSU, Duke, and either Louisville or Notre Dame.
  • Duke loses to Miami and beats FSU – Miami has at least 6 losses (holds the tiebreaker over UNC), FSU has at least 6 losses (UNC holds the tiebreaker), and Duke has 6 losses (holds the tiebreaker over UNC). The worst UNC could finish is 4th, behind, Miami, Duke, and either Louisville or Notre Dame.

To add one final wrinkle, Florida State and Miami also still play each other. Building on the Duke scenarios we just established:

  • Duke beats Miami and FSU; FSU beats Miami – Duke has 5 losses, Miami has at least 8 losses, FSU has at least 6 losses (UNC holds the tiebreaker). The worst UNC could finish is 3rd, behind Duke and either Louisville or Notre Dame
  • Duke beats Miami and FSU; Miami beats FSU – Duke has 5 losses, Miami has at least 7 losses, FSU has at least 7 losses. The worst UNC could finish is 3rd, behind Duke and either Louisville or Notre Dame
  • Duke beats Miami and loses to FSU; FSU beats Miami – Duke has 6 losses (holds tiebreaker over UNC), Miami has at least 8 losses, FSU has at least 5 losses. The worst UNC could finish is 4th, behind Duke, FSU, and either Louisville or Notre Dame.
  • Duke beats Miami and loses to FSU; Miami beats FSU – Duke has 6 losses (holds tiebreaker over UNC), Miami has at least 7 losses, FSU has at least 6 losses (UNC holds the tiebreaker). The worst UNC could finish is 3rd, behind Duke and either Louisville or Notre Dame.
  • Duke loses to Miami and beats FSU; FSU beats Miami – Duke has 6 losses (holds tiebreaker over UNC), Miami has at least 7 losses, FSU has at least 6 losses (UNC holds the tiebreaker). The worst UNC could finish is 3rd, behind Duke and either Louisville or Notre Dame.
  • Duke loses to Miami and beats FSU; Miami beats FSU – Duke has 6 losses (holds tiebreaker over UNC), Miami has at least 6 losses (holds tiebreaker over UNC), FSU has at least 7 losses. The worst UNC could finish is 4th, behind Duke, Miami, and either Louisville or Notre Dame.

So what does all this mumbo-jumbo mean? What’s the bottom line? Here it is:

UNC has already locked up a top-4 seed and an all-important double-bye in the ACC Tournament.

What a relief. The worst-case scenario is that North Carolina finishes fourth. And there are only two scenarios in which that becomes a reality. This is great news, but the work isn’t done. The Tar Heels are not going to sit idly by and take three losses.

If Carolina can win at least one of the three remaining games, they lock up at least a share of the ACC Regular Season Championship and at least the two seed in the ACC Tournament. Should the Tar Heels win at least two of their three remaining games, they will clinch the outright ACC Regular Season Championship and the one seed in the ACC Tournament. Also, don’t forget that the other five teams involved in these scenarios have other games they could possibly lose, which would help Carolina’s cause.

I can rest in peace knowing that, for once, the worst-case scenario isn’t all that bad.