Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 88-65 home win over Georgia Tech on Saturday evening.
- After a week off from game action there was concern that Carolina might come out a little rusty. That fear was completely unfounded. The defense was dialed in and active from the first possession, RJ Davis nailed a three on the first offensive possession of the game, Caleb Love had a vicious dunk on the second offensive possession, and Carolina led 13-4 four minutes into the game. They never looked back.
- This was UNC’s third instance this season having at least a week in between games. Each game on the backend has been a blowout of at least 21 points: Michigan (72-51), Boston College (91-65), and Georgia Tech (88-65).
- In the first game against Georgia Tech, Carolina jumped out to a 12-4 lead (which they also did today). In that prior meeting though, Tech then reeled off a 19-2 run to take a 23-14 lead. The Heels fought back for a 31-all tie at halftime and blitzed the Yellow Jackets in the second half. There was no such need today as UNC literally never trailed.
- The Dean Dome has been good to the Tar Heels this season. Carolina is now a perfect 9-0 at home.
- UNC got a lift having Dawson Garcia and Kerwin Walton back after each missing the previous two games. Puff Johnson also got to make his season debut after suffering several injury setbacks. Hopefully he can stay healthy and on the court.
- Just as Carolina got a lift from those three players returning, Anthony Harris was unfortunately unavailable today.
- Before getting to the individual accolades, let’s make sure to point out Carolina’s team defense. Aside from the eye test of looking more engaged, active, connected, and involved (all of which they did), the standout performance was what the Heels did to the ACC’s second-leading scorer Michael Devoe. Devoe, who averages 20.5 points, scored just two points on 1-5 shooting and had six turnovers. Kudos to the defensive gameplan from Coach Lebo and the on-court efforts of Leaky Black. Devoe, who had previously scored in every half of basketball this season, was held scoreless for the first 26:51 of game action.
- Also, before getting to individual accolades, let’s point out the way Carolina is sharing the ball of late. UNC had 20 assists on 30 made baskets for a 66.7 assist percentage. In the past two games, UNC has assisted on 39 of 58 made field goals (67.2%). Tonight's game was the second time this season the Heels have hit the 20-assist mark. The other time? Carolina’s first game against Georgia Tech. Great opportunity to continue that trend on Tuesday against Miami, who is currently KenPom’s 200th-rated team in defensive efficiency.
- Okay, we’ve waited long enough, let’s talk about the most recent dominant performance turned in by Armando Bacot. Before examining any statistical data though, I’d like to point out an obvious sign of Bacot’s maturation process. He picked up a foul 39 seconds into the game. In previous seasons, that could have been a bad omen for a poor performance to follow. No longer. Bacot picked up just one more foul in the game and it was several minutes into the second half.
- Bacot wound up with yet another double-double, his seventh in a row and 12th overall in the first 16 games. That run gives Bacot the sixth-longest double-double streak in Carolina history. He tied his career high in points set against Virginia (29), tallied six dunks, and was a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. Nine made free throws ties a career high, but is the most he’s made while also being perfect from the line.
- Per UNC SID Steve Kirschner, the last Carolina player with 29 or more points in consecutive games was Tyler Hansbrough in 2007-08. The two most recent players to do so prior to Hansbrough were Antawn Jamison and Hubert Davis.
- Speaking of the Davis family, with his 12 rebounds tonight, Bacot has 670 in his career and has tied Coach Davis’ uncle Walter for 32nd on the Carolina career rebounds list.
- The Tar Heels have had a player score 20 or more points 20 times this season after Bacot and RJ Davis (21) both did so tonight. For reference, last season, in the entire season, a Tar Heels scored 20 or more points just seven times (it was a shorter season but UNC still played 29 games). They’ve had at least one 20-point scorer in 15 of the 16 games this season, and have had multiple 20-point scorers five times.
- Bacot was not the only player who shot well from the free throw line, it was a great team effort. Carolina went 19-21. It was the first occasion this season in which UNC took at least 20 free throws and missed two or fewer.
- Carolina finished with 42 rebounds to Georgia Tech’s 26 (+16 for UNC). Although the Jackets finished with four offensive rebounds, the Heels didn’t surrender one until there was around 6:30 left in the game.
- Davis’ three-pointer and Love’s dunk on the first two possessions were essentially a pleasant foreshadowing of the night ahead. Carolina shot really well from deep (until the closing throw-away minutes in which they went 0-5). Take away those five and the Heels were 9-20 (45%) before calling off the dogs. Additionally, Love’s thunderous baseline dunk off a BLOB play was just the first two of Carolina’s 12-point advantage in the paint.
- You might recall that poor RJ Davis had a bit of a rough shooting day against Virginia (in case you don’t remember, he was 0-10 from the field). He made up for that “oh-fer” in a big way tonight, scoring 21 total points on 8-11 shooting including 4-6 from downtown. Each of those four three-pointers came in a 16-point, 6-8 shooting performance in the first half. Davis also corralled five rebounds and took care of the ball well: distributing six assists against just two turnovers.
- Carolina recorded just one block in the game, but it was a beautiful sequence from Justin McKoy. Tech had just called their “use-it-or-lose-it” timeout in the final minute of the first half. Coming out of the huddle they ran Michael Devoe off two screens to get him the ball at the top of the key moving toward the basket. Leaky Black navigated the first screen well, but couldn’t get through the second, so McKoy floated back down the lane to help with Devoe’s drive. McKoy blocked the shot and saved it to Caleb Love to start a fast break. Ordinarily, you don’t want to save the ball under your opponent’s basket, but in this case (as you'll notice in the video below) McKoy could clearly see Love and see that he was alone for a safe pass.
- The Heels held Tech to just 26 first-half points, 24 of which were scored by the combination of Jordan Usher and Deivon Smith. Tech shot just 39.3% in that half. Carolina has held each of the last seven visitors to the Smith Center to 65 or fewer points.
- Carolina has jumped up to 24th at KenPom, the highest rating of the season.
Hubert Davis postgame press conference
Players postgame press conference
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Miami on Tuesday, January 18. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ACC Network
Want to receive an email with Quick Hitters and other articles from Isaac Schade? Click here. Include your name in the text of the email.
Send Isaac Schade an email to talk more about this article.