Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 72-53 home win over UNC-Asheville on Tuesday night.
- A solid, if unspectacular, win for Carolina back home in the Dean Dome on a quick turnaround following an 0-2 performance against Purdue and Tennessee in Connecticut. Don’t underestimate the toll that takes on your body, plus the emotional letdown of going from playing two top-25 teams to UNC-Asheville (currently No. 283 at KenPom). Additionally, keep in mind, Monday was the only day Carolina had for rest, recuperation, and practice, so there was really no time to change anything monumental following the weekend games.
- The biggest positive from this game has to be the defensive intensity the Tar Heels displayed. They had been allowing an average of 83.8 points per game and held the Bulldogs to 30 points below that number (53).
- Asheville shot under 30% in both halves (27.3% and 25.7%) and in total shot 26.5% (18-68). The last time Carolina held an opponent under 30% was UNLV last season on November 30 (18-62; 29.0%). The last time Carolina held their opponent to 26.5% or below was December 6, 2011 when Evansville shot 25.8% (17-66).
- An encouraging three-game trend: In the first three games of the season, the Tar Heels shot 69.3% (61-88) from the free throw line. In the three games since, that number has jumped to 83.0% (39-47).
- Additionally, Carolina’s assist percentage numbers were back to where they had been prior to the games against Purdue and Tennessee. Tonight, UNC assisted on 15 of their 27 made baskets (55.6%). Their season assist percentage is now back up over 50.
- At the same time, the Tar Heels appeared to want to help one another too much at times. They were eager to find open teammates (a good thing!) but on multiple occasions made one too many passes (a less good thing). Striking that balance will eventually come more naturally as the roster continues to learn one another’s tendencies.
- The rebounding margin was +22, tied for the highest of the season (Brown). The Heels hauled in nine more defensive rebounds (38) than Asheville had total rebounds (29). In a more typical Carolina fashion than we've seen in the early going, the offensive rebounding percentage was 48.1, the highest of the season and the first time over 40%.
- The biggest bug-a-boo of the game was turnovers. The Tar Heels committed a season-high 18. We should have known that would be the case when Carolina had a turnover on three of the first five possessions. In the second half they had turnovers on three straight possessions and two straight possessions in separate instances. UNC needs to clean up these mental lapses. Each. Possession. Matters.
- The second pressing issue tonight was missed easy scoring opportunities. UNC needs to be more efficient in fast break offense. They squandered multiple of those opportunities this evening. Two of those occurred in close succession in the second half. There was a great pass from Love to Black for a wide-open dunk which he missed as he seemingly couldn’t decide between a dunk or layup. On the second, Davis tried to dump it off to Bacot, but overpenetrated and his pass went straight to a Bulldog.
- Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the game came with 12:54 remaining. Armando Bacot had just checked back in after getting a breather. Asheville scored to cut the lead to seven, but then we were treated to The Armando Bacot Experience over the next 90 seconds. In that span, the junior center went on a personal 9-2 run to push the lead back to double digits. The Bulldogs would never again get the lead under 10.
- For Bacot, who finished with 22, it was the third time this season he’s broken 20 points.
- Another kudos to Bacot, who has struggled with foul trouble in his career. He was clearly making a concerted effort to use his feet more than his arms for positioning and staying in front of ball handlers. As a result, he wasn’t whistled for his first foul until there was just 6:15 left in the game.
- Carolina had a big first half run. The teams traded a few buckets for a 5-5 tie to open up the game. UNC then went on a 12-0 run to build a comfortable lead that they would more-or-less nurse throughout the first half.
- Leaky Black set a career high in rebounds with 11, but fell just shy of a double-double, scoring nine points.
- Kerwin Walton didn’t post much in the scoring column (four points), but did hit two mid-range jumpers. It’s good to see him getting inside the three-point line.
- Following tonight’s 7-14 performance from the three-point line, the Heels are shooting 41.4% as a team. It’s obviously early, but the last time Carolina finished a season shooting 40% or more as a team from deep was 2004-05 (40.3%). In fact, if the season ended today, it would be just the sixth time ever the Heels have shot 40% or more for an entire season.
- Congrats to Clare Aubry, one of tonight’s officials. She now holds the distinction of being the first female official to call a game in the Dean Dome.
- Congrats are also in order to both scholarship freshmen, D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles. Dunn and Styles each scored their first career points with some run at the end of the game. Dunn splashed a three from the corner while Styles had a nice putback.
- Again, this was a solid showing for the Tar Heels who now have a full week to go back to the drawing board before Michigan comes to town next Wednesday for the ACC / Big Ten Challenge. While Michigan has also dropped a couple early games, the Wolverines are still fifth at KenPom and will offer another early season measuring stick.
Hubert Davis postgame press conference
Players postgame press conference
Rapid Reactions with Hubert Davis & Leaky Black
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the ACC / Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday, December 1. Carolina will host Michigan with tip scheduled for 9:15pm ET on ESPN.
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