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Quick Hitters - North Carolina at Georgia Tech (ACC Opener)

Isaac Schade presents Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-62 road win over Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon in the Tar Heels' ACC opener.

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-62 road win over Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon in the Tar Heels' ACC opener.

Highlights:

Condensed Game:

  • What an impressive performance for Carolina. My biggest curiosity heading into the game was to see if they could go on the road and build on the momentum they gained against Michigan. The best teams provide consistently steady performances game after game. The Tar Heels passed that test with flying colors.
  • Aside from the game itself, part one: We have to start by addressing the Formula-One-shaped elephant in the room. At game time, ESPN was showing College Football Playoff content on ESPN and Formula 1 content on ESPN2. ESPN2 said in the bottom corner “MCBB: North Carolina at Georgia Tech, Streaming live on the ESPN App” but even that version of the game still showed the Formula 1 content. ESPN had contractual obligations forcing them to show the programming they did, but still, this was bungled. Alternate arrangements should have been sorted out.
  • Aside from the game itself, part two: Someone close to Josh Pastner should love him enough to encourage him to shave his sideburns.
  • What a promising way to start the conference slate of games. Although game two of ACC play isn’t until December 29, Carolina has to be uplifted. The Tar Heels, typically road warriors under Roy Williams, had dropped their first road conference game each of the past two years.
  • The Tar Heels have an odd streak going. They have not grabbed an offensive rebound on a free throw in six straight games and have just two this whole season. The longest such stretch last season was two.
  • Carolina nabbed a season-high eight steals.
  • The Tar Heels had a quartet of players each score at least 15 points, grab five rebounds, and dole out four assists: RJ Davis (23/5/5), Caleb Love (17/6/5), Armando Bacot (15/13/4), and Brady Manek (15/5/4).
  • Carolina shared the ball really well today - 21 assists on 31 made field goals, a 67.7 assist percentage. That’s easily the highest single-game percentage this season and brings the season average back over 50% (121 assists on 235 made baskets – 51.5%).
  • Of the nine Tar Heels who saw the floor, seven of them tallied at least one assist. To be fair, Justin McKoy only played 17 seconds, so it’s really seven out of eight.
  • Last season, it took until game 10 for Carolina to have one single 20-point scorer. Day’Ron Sharpe had 25 against Notre Dame. In just eight games this year, Carolina has had 11 20-point scorers. There has been at least one 20-point scorer in every game and five different players have achieved the feat.
  • In the three games following the abysmal Tennessee performance, Carolina has held all three opponents under 50% shooting for the game and in each individual half.
  • Much has been made about Carolina’s personnel shift to a more modern four-around-one approach, and rightfully so. Alongside that change has been noted how that personnel update will negatively affect rebounding. So far, however, the Tar Heels are holding their own. They’ve outrebounded seven of their eight opponents (all but Tennessee) and have +9.63 rebounding margin.
  • Carolina built an early 12-4 lead, but then Georgia Tech hit each of their first five three-point attempts in the game as part of a 15-2 run to take a 19-14 lead. After starting off the game 5-5 from deep though, the Jackets were just 1-11 the entire rest of the way.
  • The Tar Heels are absolutely scorching from beyond the arc. They went 10-17 today (58.8%) and are now shooting 43.3% this season. Four different Carolina players have made at least 10 from deep.
  • One has to imagine that the lessons of resilience Carolina learned at Charleston played a role in the first half of this game. After a hot start, the Tar Heels fell prey to a 13-0 run from Georgia Tech and found themselves in a nine-point hole with 8:43 left before halftime. UNC didn’t panic, freak out, or fold. They methodically worked their way back until they eventually knotted things at 29 with 72 seconds left before the half. Georgia Tech scored another bucket, but Anthony Harris took a break from chasing Michael DeVoe around the court to re-tie the game at 31. From there, Carolina asserted themselves in the second half and ultimately won by 17.
  • Despite the offensive praises we are heaping on multiple Tar Heels, the highest accolades go to the tandem of Leaky Black and Anthony Harris who drew the assignment of guarding the nation’s leading scorer, Michael DeVoe (25.0 points per game). By halftime, DeVoe had attempted just six shots and made half of them for a total of seven points. The second half was essentially the mirror image with DeVoe making three of seven shots to finish with eight in the half and 15 for the game. 15 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but when you’re the nation’s leading scorer and the large majority of your team’s offense, being 10 points shy of your average is a big deal. DeVoe was just 1-5 from deep.
  • Georgia Tech had zero free throw attempts in the first half.
  • Carolina, for their part, made more first half free throws (four) than they attempted in the entire game vs. Michigan (three).
  • If you thought the back-and-forth runs of the first half were intriguing, Carolina had a run in the second half that made those first half streaks look puny. Georgia Tech scored the first four points of the half to build a 35-31 lead, but then Carolina went on a 19-4 run to build a double-digit lead for the first time. Although the clock said the game wasn’t yet over, the Tar Heels’ body language said it was. And although Tech made a late push, Carolina led by double-digits for the final 10 minutes.
  • Armando Bacot recorded another double-double for his fifth of the year in eight games. That also gives him three double-doubles in the last four. Love and Davis are getting a lot of the publicity, but Bacot has been a steadying anchor in the post.
  • Although nine players saw the floor, Dawson Garcia, Kerwin Walton, and McKoy each played limited minutes. McKoy literally only played 17 seconds. Garcia played 12:37, but only 3:52 in the second half. Walton played 7:32, all of which occurred in the first half. On the Walton side of things, perhaps much of his playing time went to Anthony Harris as he guarded DeVoe. Harris played more (14:21) than Garcia, Walton, or McKoy
  • Following all of Sunday's action, Carolina, on the strength of the Michigan and Georgia Tech performances, has vaulted all the way up to 29th at KenPom and ranks as the No. 9 team in offensive efficiency.

Box Score

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Hubert Davis postgame press conference

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Players postgame press conference

Caleb Love 

Armando Bacot 

RJ Davis 

Leaky Black

Anthony Harris

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Elon on Saturday, December 11. Tip is at 8:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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