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Quick Hitters - North Carolina vs. Michigan (ACC / Big Ten Challenge)

Isaac Schade presents Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 72-51 home win over Michigan on Wednesday night in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge.

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 72-51 home win over Michigan on Wednesday night in the ACC / Big Ten Challenge.

Highlights:

Condensed Game:

  • A strong second half allows Carolina to extend their two-point halftime lead and finish with a comfortable 21-point victory over 24th-ranked Michigan. Beating a ranked opponent (the first such accomplishment for Hubert Davis) couldn't come at a better time for UNC. As Bryan Ives notes, coming into this game the Tar Heels were 2-13 against their last 15 top-25 opponents. 
  • Multiple luminaries were honored tonight. Pre-game, Dick Vitale (who was on the ESPN call) received a standing ovation in the Smith Center. Antawn Jamison was honored at halftime. Stuart Scott was also honored.
  • A whole host of past Tar Heels were in attendance. According to Jones Angell that list included, amongst others, Phil Ford, Marcus Ginyard, Tyler Hansbrough, Antawn Jamison, Mitch Kupchak, Bob McAdoo, Buzz Peterson, Brian Reese, Shea Rush, Reyshawn Terry, Tyler Zeller, Roy Williams, plus the coaching staff and Eric Montross.
  • This game was Michigan’s first true road environment of the season, and it showed. The Wolverines committed six turnovers in the first five or so minutes. Once the Tar Heels got rolling and the crowd was behind that momentum, there was seemingly nothing the Wolverines could draw from to stem the tide.
  • The win bumped up the Tar Heels from 49th all the way up to 37th in the KenPom rankings. 
  • Carolina already has two games this season with fewer turnovers than any games last season (Brown – 7, Michigan – 6). Last season’s lowest turnover total was eight.
  • We are just seven games into the season, so this number represents an admittedly small sample size, but the 2021-22 Tar Heels are shooting nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 2020-21 Tar Heels from the three point line. This year is 41.4966% (61-147) compared to last year’s 31.8271% (162-509). Keep in mind that the higher percentage this season is even more impressive because it comes on 3.4 more three-point attempts per game.
  • One of the keys coming into the game was the battle inside between Armando Bacot and Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson. Suffice it to say Bacot won this battle decisively. The Tar Heels’ junior center finished with a stat-stuffing 11 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal, and just one turnover. Dickinson, on the other hand, finished with just four points on 2-for-5 shooting, three turnovers, and, importantly, four fouls in just 18 minutes of action.
  • The double-double was Bacot’s fourth of the young season.
  • Late in the first half, after Dickinson scored his first bucket and then drew a foul on Bacot on the next possession, Carolina started doubling his touches to get the ball out of his hands. On the offensive side, the Tar Heels made a concerted effort to feed Bacot after halftime. In just 93 seconds he was able to draw fouls three and four on Dickinson, thus relegating his AAU teammate to the bench.
  • When Dickinson checked out with 18:27 left on the clock, Carolina lead by just four. Juwan Howard had no choice but to re-insert his big man at the 8:00 minute mark with UNC’s lead ballooning to 15 points.
  • Carolina didn’t just bottle-up Dickinson, but also Michigan’s first half hero – Moussa Diabate. He finished the first half 5-6 from the field for 11 points. The second half, though, was an entirely different story. Diabate added two more points from the free throw line but was 0-3 from the field the rest of the way.
  • I’ve buried the lede: If Carolina can play this brand of defense on a regular basis, the Tar Heels will be in business. Rotations were better and more crisp. Individual on-ball defense looked more determined. UNC limited Michigan to just 51 points on 35.1% shooting.
  • Even in a sport where it feels like we’ve seen it all, something brand new always seems to happen. The Tar Heels didn’t attempt a single first half free throw and only attempted three for the game. That total of three attempted free throws is a new program low.
  • In fact, in the first half, the teams combined for just five fouls and two free throws.
  • It took nearly three minutes for either team to get in the scoring column to begin the game. RJ Davis’ mid-range jumper opened up the scoring after the teams started off a combined 0-9.
  • Michigan surged ahead midway through the first half. They kept trying to open up a margin, but Carolina hung around. Eventually, the Wolverines put together back-to-back buckets to build a 27-22 lead with 2:52 remaining before the half. In what was perhaps a game-changing push, the Heels then closed the half on a 7-0 run to take a two-point lead into the locker room.
  • The game was full of highlight reel plays for the Tar Heels. Brady Manek had a smooth tip-slam around 5:00 into the game. Bacot had a monster block in the second half. Love found an open lane and drove for a massive dunk on the right side. On another occasion, he drove baseline and found Bacot coming down the lane for a vicious slam. Bacot and Black each had and-ones early in the second half. Enjoy video of several of those plays:
  • The mission now is to build on this effort and allow it to carry over into Sunday’s conference-opener at Georgia Tech in a road environment that should have a lot of Tar Heel fans in attendance. 

Read More

Box Score

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Hubert Davis postgame press conference

Players postgame press conference

Caleb Love 

Armando Bacot 

Dawson Garcia

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Georgia Tech on Sunday, December 5 to kick off ACC play. Tip is at 3:00pm ET on ESPN.

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