Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 67-63 victory over Stanford on Tuesday afternoon in the Maui Invitational Semifinals.
- With the victory, Carolina moves to 13-0 all-time against Stanford; the most wins for the Heels against a team they have never lost to.
- We heard a lot during the offseason about the work Garrison Brooks put in on his outside shot. He took his first three-pointer of the season in a late shot clock situation in the first half. The shot went in and Brooks’ form looked good, but unfortunately, upon review, the shot clock ran out before he released the ball.
- The Tar Heels continue their early-season rebounding prowess. Their rebounding margin has grown in each of the first three games: +15 (College of Charleston), +19 (UNLV), and +20 (Stanford).
- Carolina also continues to post otherworldly offensive rebounding percentage numbers. Today they missed 28 shots and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds. If you’re keeping track at home, you don’t need a calculator to quickly realize that means the Tar Heels rebounded more than half of their misses – 53.6 percent to be exact. Oddly enough, that’s not even the highest percentage so far this season. Against UNLV yesterday, Carolina rebounded 54.3 percent of their missed shots.
- On the season the Heels are two offensive rebounds shy of grabbing exactly half of their field goal misses. They’ve missed 106 shots and rebounded 51 of them for an astounding 48.1 offensive rebounding percentage.
- Leaky Black was important today on both sides of the ball. Defensively, as expected, he drew the assignment on freshman phenom Ziaire Williams (who committed to Stanford over Carolina, by the way). In Stanford’s first game of the season, Williams scored 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting, including three three-pointers. He also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out three assists, and had one steal (to be fair, he also had six turnovers). Today he recorded only 10 points (including only four in the second half), was limited to four rebounds and one assist. Offensively, Black himself scored 10 points on efficient shooting from both the field (3-for-5) and free throw line (4-for-6). He also snagged seven rebounds and scored UNC’s final three points in a close game. The first two of these points came on a lay-up with a minute to go and Carolina clinging to a one-point lead. Black then salted the game away by hitting one of two free throws with five seconds remaining to provide a two-possession cushion.
- Armando Bacot is off to one of the most efficient shooting starts in recent memory. He’s missed exactly two field goals and two free throws the entire season. He is shooting 12-for-14 (85.7 percent) from the field and 9-for-11 (81.8 percent) from the free throw line. For context, Bacot shot 64.5 percent from the free throw line last year. Also, it's pretty easy to shoot 85.7 percent when these are the types of shots you're attempting:
- Bacot is not the only player shooting well from the free throw line. Of the regular rotation players, Caleb Love (12-for-14, 85.7 percent) and RJ Davis (8-for-10, 80.0 percent) join Bacot in the 80 percent range, while Leaky Black and Andrew Platek are both at exactly 75 percent. Unfortunately, the other three big men are struggling from the charity stripe: Day’Ron Sharpe (6-for-10, 60 percent), Garrison Brooks (7-for-15, 46.7 percent), Walker Kessler (1-for-4, 25 percent). Obviously, three games worth of numbers (good and bad) make for a small sample size, meaning that the percentages will fluctuate going forward.
- The Tar Heels had to survive first half foul troubles, particularly in the frontcourt rotation. Three of the four regular rotation big men (Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, and Walker Kessler) plus RJ Davis each arrived at halftime with two fouls. One of the great side effects of this year’s depth is the ability to protect a foul-plagued player by sending him to the bench without experiencing much (if any) drop-off from the player that comes in.
- Curiously, each of the five starters had precisely one foul apiece 5:00 into the first half.
- Something to keep an eye on from a personnel standpoint: With 4:56 remaining, Day’Ron Sharpe subbed in for Armando Bacot. Sharpe, not Bacot, played the remaining minutes of the game alongside the other four starters. It remains to be seen whether this was simply a situational decision or a changing of the guard.
- Speaking of Sharpe, he wins the official “Danny Green Stat Stuffer” award for the game. In just 18:50 of playing time, Sharpe grabbed seven rebounds, scored four points, dished out a team-high four assists, had a team-high four blocks, and tied for the team lead with two steals. He had the highest +/- on the team at +14. Here's a look at one of those four assists:
- Walker Kessler on the other hand had some trouble getting going today, similar to Sharpe’s experience on Monday. In 9:10 of game action, he attempted zero field goals, missed all three of his free throw attempts, didn’t grab a rebound, picked up four fouls, didn’t have any assists or blocks, but did pick up a steal and didn’t commit any turnovers. I’ll remind you what I said about Sharpe in this space just 24 hours ago: better days are ahead for Walker Kessler (maybe even tomorrow against Texas).
- While Kessler didn’t commit any turnovers (neither did Garrison Brooks or Puff Johnson), every other Tar Heel that checked into the game had multiple turnovers. When all was said and done, Carolina had committed 24 (not a typo).
- If you’re thinking that it’s a rare occurrence to have 24 turnovers, you would be correct. The last time UNC had this many turnovers? March 23, 2012 (also not a typo) in St. Louis, Missouri as Carolina beat Ohio 73-65 in overtime to advance to the Elite 8. Does this sound familiar? It was the game that Stilman White started in place of the injured Kendall Marshall (thanks Creighton). The last time Carolina had more turnovers than today was 27 on January 13, 2010 at Clemson. The Tigers won that game 83-64.
- The Heels have been led in scoring by one of the two starting freshman guards in each of the first three games. Today it was Caleb Love, who finished with 16 points, including two big three-pointers early in the second half.
- We haven’t even mentioned Garrison Brooks yet, who fell one rebound shy of recording his first double-double of the season. After having to play 35-plus minutes a game routinely last year, Brooks is yet to break the 30-minute barrier. His legs are extremely thankful for the depth on this year’s team.
- Stanford’s defense was both stifling and suffocating, particularly in the first half during which the Heels scored just 29 points. This experience was good practice for the length and athleticism the Texas Longhorns will throw at Carolina on Wednesday.
- Puff Johnson only played a couple of minutes today and only took one shot, but it was an impactful one. From a tie game at the under-4:00 media timeout of the first half, Stanford went on an 8-0 run to take a 33-25 lead. Johnson stemmed the tide with a lay-up to cut the lead to six. After a Stanford miss, Caleb Love scored a bucket in the paint to reduce the lead to four. A Leaky Black steal led to a second opportunity for Love in the lane, but he couldn’t convert, and the halftime lead stayed at four. Here's Johnson's lay-up:
- Neither team led by double-digits at any point in the game. The second half was a back-and-forth affair, with each team holding a lead at different moments.
- Despite the 15 offensive rebounds, six steals, and three blocks with possession, Carolina’s 24 turnovers resulted in a 0 in the Possessions Created and Saved metric. Stanford, however, was able to muster a score of +11. So UNC's net PCS for the game was -11.
- The Tar Heels are currently 15th at KenPom. In a change from typical KenPom ratings, Carolina is actually ranked higher defensively (10th in Adjusted Defense) than offensively (27th in Adjusted Offense). To wit, Stanford didn't score a field goal over the final 4:15 of the game.
- To put a nice little cherry on top, Coach William's dominance over the Pac-12 is almost NC State-worthy:
Roy Williams postgame press conference
Players postgame press conference[Insert Roy Williams press conference video]
Players postgame press conference
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Maui Invitational Championship / Consolation Game (in Asheville, NC). The Tar Heels will play Texas on Wednesday, December 2. Tip is at 4:00 ET on ESPN.
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