Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 80-73 home win over Wake Forest on Wednesday night.
- On America’s Inauguration Day, Carolina won. It was an uninspiring first half, to be frank, but Carolina did just enough of what they needed to in the second half. The positive in that reality is that the Heels put a “W” in the win column, and yet have much to continue to work on.
- One of those items to work on will be learning to put away an inferior opponent. Against Syracuse, Carolina went on three runs of nine or more points to take seemingly commanding leads. In each situation though, the Tar Heels allowed the Orange back in the game. The same was true tonight. Carolina went up by double-digits on two different occasions in the second half, but in both instances allowed Wake back in the game.
- To wit, the Heels won with a seven point margin (80-73); comfortable, but not convincing. That final score means that each of Carolina’s seven ACC games has finished with a margin of seven points or fewer.
- On the other side of that same coin, tonight the Tar Heels also provided some glimpses of their potential. The following snapshots will provide a window into what could be. Both sequences took place within the final 5:00 of the game.
- First, Caleb Love grabbed a defensive rebound and missed a shot in the lane back on the offensive end. He was able to corral his own miss in traffic and put it back up for the layup (66-59 UNC), plus the foul (67-59 UNC). On Wake’s inbounds pass, RJ Davis somehow stole the ball while falling out of bounds and saved it with a behind-the-back pass to Leaky Black, who found Armando Bacot barreling down the lane for a dunk (69-59 UNC). Here’s video of the Davis-to-Black-to-Bacot save and dunk:
- In the second sequence, Love poked the ball away from a Wake player, ran a fast break with Leaky Black, who delivered one of his eight assists to Love for a massive dunk (77-65 UNC). After two Wake free throws, Armando Bacot was able to pitch ahead to Love for another dunk (79-67 UNC – largest lead of the game). Here’s video of both dunks:
- Carolina has now assisted on at least 62% of their made field goals in six straight games. Tonight’s tally was 18 assists on 29 made baskets, good for 62.1 percent.
- Leaky Black led the way with eight of those 18 assists (a season high for him) and added eight points, six rebounds, two steals, just one turnover, and perfect shooting at the free throw line for his most robust stat-stuffing performance of the season.
- A continuing positive trend in turnover numbers: Carolina has now tallied 14 or fewer in three straight games and four of the last five. A return to carelessness with the ball seemed inevitable tonight as the Heels racked up nine first half turnovers, but limited themselves to just three in the second half for a team total of 12.
- Meanwhile, Carolina forced Wake into 20 turnovers of their own and capitalized on those for 24 points off turnovers, likely the difference in the game.
- While Caleb Love’s adulation from the night will understandably derive from his team high (and career high) 20 points, he also filled out the rest of his stat line admirably. To those 20 points, he added three assists, two blocks, two steals, and three turnovers. While the turnover number seems high, in all fairness to Love, the first two were on back-to-back possessions less than five minutes into the game and the third was with fewer than 30 seconds remaining. In between, Love mostly made much better decisions and valued the ball for his team.
- For the first time all season, UNC did not out-offensive rebound their opponent. The Heels and Deacons each had 10.
- Additionally, the Tar Heels were held under 30 percent in total offensive rebounding percentage for the first time all season (27.8 percent).
- UNC did, however, get back on the horse of out-rebounding their opponent in total rebounds, albeit by the slim margin of 38-36.
- The Tar Heels forced a season-high 12 steals.
- Interestingly, Carolina blocked three shots, all of which came from Caleb Love (two) and RJ Davis (one).
- Carolina only attempted one three-pointer in the second half (and missed it). For the game, though, the team shot a respectable 33.3 percent. Unfortunately, while the Tar Heels made just three three-pointers, the Deacons connected on 13.
- The key contributor to Wake’s three-point eruption was Isaiah Mucius. Stop me if you’ve heard this tale of woe before from a Tar Heel basketball game: Mucius came into the matchup shooting 4-for-24 from beyond the arc and proceeded to knock down seven of 12 tonight. He’ll likely never do that again. Oh well.
- Roy Williams has now gone with the same starting lineup three games in a row – Caleb Love, Kerwin Walton, Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot.
- Carolina continues to shoot better from the free throw line, having made at least 70 percent in five straight games. Caleb Love leads the team in free throw percentage (minimum 10 attempts) at 80.5 percent. He was hovering around the 85 percent threshold but missed three of his seven attempts tonight. Even having done so, he’s still made 33 of his 41 free throws.
- Armando Bacot got back to his efficient field goal shooting, making eight of his ten shots, the most field goals he’s made in a game this season. He had some foul trouble tonight but was still able to contribute to the team, even after picking up his fourth.
- The Tar Heels enjoyed a frontcourt advantage and made intentional strides to get the ball inside early and often. The ball touched the paint via a pass on five of the first seven possessions. Carolina wound up nearly doubling up the Deacons in points in the paint – 36-20.
- It’s almost unbelievable that Carolina made it to 80 points tonight (just the third time they’ve done so this season). They managed just nine points in the first 10 minutes, which means they scored 71 points over the final 30 minutes. The Heels put 49 points on the board in the second half, tied for their most in a half this season (second half against Iowa).
- A strange lineup sighting for (I believe) the first time this season: Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, and Day’Ron Sharpe were all on the floor at the same time late in the first half.
- Four Tar Heels scored in double figures: Love (20), Bacot (18), Davis (13), and Brooks (10 - although it took him 11 shots to get there).
- Elsewhere tonight, Cole Anthony hit a buzzer-beater game-winning three for the Orlando Magic:
Roy Williams postgame press conference
Players postgame press conference
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against NC State on Saturday, January 23. Tip is at 2:00pm ET on ESPN.
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