Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 69-67 loss to Texas on Wednesday in the Maui Invitational Championship Game.
- Surprisingly, Texas now leads the all-time series 9-3. Carolina won the first two games, but have lost nine of ten since, including the last five in a row. Keep this stat in mind as you think about the game: this Texas team returned literally 100 percent of their scoring from last season. That's almost unheard of in college basketball in 2020.
- A tough game for the Tar Heels who suffered through a rather forgettable first half, before turning things around in the second half just in time to see Texas hit essentially a buzzer-beater to win. At least this time, it didn’t happen as a result of Marcus Paige being egregiously discarded to the floor (with no foul call), leaving Javan Felix wide open to calmly sink the game-winning shot:
- Let’s get a couple negative things out of the way first. The Tar Heels went 18-for-32 from the free throw line in a game they lost by two points. Making just three more free throws would have won the game (assuming that everything else played out the same).
- Injury concern: Garrison Brooks rolled his left ankle in the closing minutes before halftime when he stepped on Walker Kessler’s foot while pursuing an errant free throw attempt. He re-entered the game a couple minutes later thankfully. However, he tweaked the ankle again early in the second half and pulled himself back out. He once again re-entered and played seemingly unencumbered the rest of the way. Thankfully, the injury doesn’t appear to be a high-ankle sprain and Brooks should be ready to go ahead of Carolina’s match-up with Iowa and preseason National Player of the Year Luka Garza on Tuesday.
- UNC cleaned up the turnovers in the second half, only surrendering four. The problem was that in the first half the Heels coughed up the ball 10 times en route to digging a 12-point halftime deficit.
- Despite the 12-point halftime hole, Carolina came out in the second half with more purpose. They scored a quick six points (all by Brooks and Bacot) over the first 85 seconds to get within six points (40-34). The Heels extended the run out to 12-2 to trail by just two (42-40) at the under-16:00 media timeout.
- Carolina has had three different players lead the team in scoring in the first four games, including Caleb Love (twice), RJ Davis, and today’s leading scorer, Garrison Brooks.
- The freshmen backcourt of Caleb Love and RJ Davis collectively had an off-shooting night: 5-for-24, including 0-for-6 from three. Unfortunately, the more these types of shooting performances happen, the more defenses will sag in order to more capably defend Carolina's overwhelming frontcourt. The other difficulty for the duo was a negative assist-to-turnover ratio – 3:7.
- It wasn’t just Love and Davis who struggled with assists versus turnovers. As a team, the Tar Heels had just six assists against 14 turnovers. In fact, with 8:30 left until halftime, UNC had more turnovers (nine) than field goals (six). By the time halftime rolled around, Carolina got to the point of having more field goals than turnovers, but just barely (11 to 10).
- A classic example of how turnovers can snowball and lead to a quick scoring run for the opposition: Day’Ron Sharpe made a lay-up to give Carolina a 15-10 lead with 10:51 left in the first half. Three turnovers and a blocked shot later, Texas was on a 12-0 scoring run that took just 61 seconds (giving the Longhorns a 22-15 lead). The next time Carolina led, the score was 65-63 with 2:35 left to play. Here’s video of the majority of the Texas scoring run:
- Similar to Coby White and Cole Anthony the previous two seasons, Caleb Love and RJ Davis are going to take some time adjusting the nuances of running the team. They'll eventually learn when to push the ball and when to exhibit restraint, when to hunt their own shot and when to involve teammates. I would encourage you to be patient. It takes time to learn one another’s tendencies and, more importantly, Roy Williams’ system.
- It’s a small sample size, but even after going 0-for-2 from deep today, RJ Davis is shooting 46.2 percent from beyond the arc.
- After four games, four Tar Heels are averaging double-figure scoring (Brooks, Davis, Love, Bacot), and each is between 10.8 and 12.3 points per game. That balance will be helpful in keeping defenses honest.
- Despite struggles in other areas tonight, the Tar Heels continued their early-season rebounding onslaught. The team missed 34 shots and preposterously rebounded 20 of them (58.8 percent). Because of this high percentage, Carolina has now rebounded more than half of their misses for the season (140 misses, 71 offensive rebounds, 50.7 offensive rebound percentage).
- When it comes to rebound margin, Carolina has been equally as dominant. They’ve outrebounded all four opponents; and done so by no fewer than 15 rebounds. The average margin currently sits at +18. Here are the individual game numbers:
- Carolina was back to a +11 in Possessions Created and Saved today while Texas tallied +10 for a net of +1 PCS.
- On back-to-back days, Carolina has held a freshman former five-star Carolina recruit in check. Yesterday, Ziaire Williams scored just 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Today Greg Brown also scored 10 points, going just 3-for-9 from the field. Brown finished with a -20 +/-.
- With so many newcomers, it was bound to happen sooner or later: Coach Williams utilized an all-freshman lineup from 9:08 to 7:45 of the second half. The five on the floor were RJ Davis, Kerwin Walton, Puff Johnson, Day’Ron Sharpe, and Walker Kessler. Since it was only 1:23 of game time, it's an extremely small sample size. Carolina led 2-0 in the span, averaging exactly 1.00 points per possession. They grabbed four rebounds, dished out one assist, and didn’t turn the ball over.
- Leaky Black is beginning to look more comfortable. In Asheville, he averaged 7.7 points and nine rebounds a game. He made winning plays down the stretch in the semifinal and final. Against Texas, for example, with 25 seconds remaining and UNC down two, Black confidently stepped to the free throw line and sank two free throws to re-tie the game. He’s also making plays that show off his varied skill set, like this one:
Roy Williams postgame press conference
Players postgame press conference
Armando Bacot & Garrison Brooks
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Iowa as part of the ACC / Big Ten Challenge. The game will take place on Tuesday, December 8. Tip is at 7:30pm ET on ESPN.
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