Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: Winston-Salem State at Carolina
We're live from the Smith Center for North Carolina's only public exhibition game of this season as the Tar Heels play host to Division II-foe Winston-Salem State.
For a little pregame reading, here's what I'll be watching for and an excellent story from John Dell of the Winston-Salem Journal touching on how this matchup came to be and the respect Roy Williams has for the legendary Big House Gaines.
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No television tonight; the game should be available on ACC Network Extra through the ESPN app or streaming services.
- No surprise with Anthony, Bacot and Brooks.
- Definitely thought Leaky Black would be among the starters based on his versatility. Wouldn't take this as gospel, though. Black is still working his way back from the injury that kept him out for a while last season and limited him all summer.
- Keeling brings some veteran toughness and scoring ability. His skills make him especially dangerous in transition, and I'm interested to see how he'll play off Anthony.
17:55 — Already a couple of excellent plays for Garrison Brooks up top. Forced one jump ball and picked up another steal near halfcourt. He was Carolina's best defender last season, and it certainly appears that won't change because otherwise, the Tar Heels are having issues with stopping penetration.
15:27— UNC's second lineup is Anthony, Platek, Black, Pierce and Brooks.
Immediately, Pierce gets under the basket and draws a foul, then he throws a nice entry to Brooks for a finish. If Pierce is able to rebound and defend at the four, he's going to create some interesting matchups not only for himself, but by giving Brooks some spacing.
11:02 — Just as Roy Williams hinted at Operation Basketball, Black is the second point guard. He took over at the 13:04 mark, playing with Platek, Robinson, Pierce and Bacot.
Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Robinson left the game after twisting his ankle following a nice block as someone rolled up on him from behind. Robinson eventually got up and limped off.
Here are the lineups so far:
3:02 — UNC leads 38-19, but it hasn't been particularly pretty.
First, the good: Platek has given the Tar Heels a solid nine minutes with five points and a rebound. He was active and confident out there, using a solid fake to get a 3-pointer off.
The bad: Carolina has 11 turnovers against a Division II that finished with a losing record last season — most of them silly mistakes caused by overdribbling and careless passes.
WSSU has missed a ton of open shots, or this could be closer as the Rams have done well with penetration and have hung around relatively well on the boards, trailing just 25-16.
UNC 45, WSSU 24
- Andrew Platek might have had the most impressive showing in the first half. His first 3-pointer came off a great fake and he wasted no time getting it off. Most importantly for him staying in the rotation, he was active on defense and always seemed to be in the right spot.
- 12 first-half turnovers won't cut it in ACC play, and it most certainly won't cut it against a Division II opponent. There was a span of fewer than three minutes with seven turnovers that resulted in that group getting benched for the rest of the half. Silly mistakes, forced passes and over-dribbling.
- Brandon Robinson was excellent in his five minutes, getting to the free throw line six times and scoring eight points before leaving with an ankle injury after making an excellent block.
- Garrison Brooks didn't have trouble with mobility last season, but he looks even better this season. He's shown some quickness on both ends of the floor, making a steal near halfcourt and getting himself in position to score in the paint. He's going to be Carolina's best defender this season by a longshot.
- WSSU has a good point guard in Robert Colon and a former Division I player in Justice Kithcart, but the Rams have had more success than they should with penetration. Look for that to be a major point of emphasis in the second half.
- Everyone here showed up expecting fireworks from Anthony, but he's been relatively quiet, aside from one layup where he blew past everyone and finished. Expect more from him in the second half in every facet of the game.
15:44 — UNC started with a lineup of Anthony, Keeling, Pierce, Bacot and Brooks.
Things haven't gotten off to a great start, as the Rams have made 7 of 10 field goal attempts while the Tar Heels have already committed two turnovers. A side note — WSSU's Colon is a really good player.
It's not a disaster for Carolina, but things just aren't as sharp as they need to be for a top-10 team.
Heels lead 56-40.
12:16 — Anthony is finding a rhythm here in the second half with 6 points and 4 assists in 8 minutes. It started with distribution, including a great transition pass to set up Pierce for a bucket, and now, he's looking for his shot a bit more.
I think we all knew Garrison Brooks was adding to his game, but really impressive stuff tonight. 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a block. He's been a step ahead of the play several times.
4 turnovers, too, but that seems like an outlier for a guy with a great TO rate.
UNC leads 67-46.
7:41 — With UNC leading 77-53, we're well past the competitive portion of this exhibition.
A few points I suspect the Tar Heels want to work out here:
- Black at the point guard for an extended period with starters.
- Williams has made no secret of calling this team soft. Will they keep the pedal to the metal here?
- Pierce's fit at either the 3 or the 4.
- It appears Platek is going to to defend the point guard.
2:51 — The reserves are in, but UNC really blew it open with Black at the point alongside Platek, Keeling, Pierce and Brooks, going on an 18-5 run during a stretch of 4 minutes, 31 seconds they played together.
Only seven linuep combos in the second half.