Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: Elon at Carolina

Brant Wilkerson-New

Good evening from the Smith Center, where North Carolina will play host to Elon in its final tune-up before the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Tonight's game will air on regional sports networks, and you can find yours here or stream via Watch ESPN. 

The Tar Heels (3-0) are a 30-point favorite over the Phoenix (2-2), who are in the beginning stages of a rebuild under first-year coach Matt Schrage and struggling to shoot the ball.

Carolina will again be looking for a second scorer to emerge and force more turnovers to get on the break. Christian Keeling, who showed flashes of his offensive potential, is a top candidate for that role.

Check out Twitter for live updates, with deeper analysis and observation posted here throughout the game, and feel free to drop a comment below.

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Pregame 

- UNC will go with its same starting lineup as the past three games: Cole Anthony, Leaky Black, Christian Keeling, Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks.

- Brandon Robinson came out for layup lines in full uniform and looked plenty capable of giving it a go tonight. Would be big for Carolina to get him a few minutes tonight, because they're certainly going to need him ready to go against Alabama next Wednesday.

FIRST HALF 

17:51 — Roy Williams called what might have been the earliest timeout of his career and absolutely lit into his team. Tar Heels all out of sorts offensively and allowing Elon to get one open look after another.

(See, it really happened.)

15:13 — Elon, one of the nation's worst-shooting teams, made its first five shots tonight.

UNC's relative defensive success this season has been completely propped up on opponents missing open shots, so these first few minutes don't bode well for the Heels. Phoenix leads 14-9.

11:52 — Another game, another poor start for UNC. Heels have been exactly even at 42-42 through three games so far, and it appears they could be trailing again.

Elon, which came in shooting 14 percent from 3-point range and 33 percent on 2-point attempts, has made 8/11 from the field, including 5/7 on 3-point attempts.

It was clear the Carolina defense needed work, but having it it exposed tonight will certainly be a wake-up call for the Tar Heels. 

7:57 — After an eight-minute break on the bench, Christian Keeling returns looking like a new player with a confident stroke to drop his first 3-point attempt of the night. Then, he got involved on a rebound and tipped it away from an Elon player in the lane, ultimately resulting in a bucket for Andrew Platek. Getting involved defensively was the key last week, and it certainly wouldn't hurt tonight.

HALF: Elon 33, UNC 32

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- Elon is an exceptionally poor shooting team, but that didn't stop the Phoenix from getting hot early on, hitting 5 of 7 3-point attempts. As poorly as the offense has functioned for Carolina this season, defense appears to be a bigger concern as the Tar Heels haven't forced turnovers and continue to allow opponents to gt the same wide-open looks. The only savior for the defense to this point has been missed shots, and shortly, Carolina will run into someone that can take advantage.

- The offense is a mess. Timing is bad, execution is off and there's not nearly enough attention to detail. Silly passes, weak screens and over-dribbling have all been to blame.

- It's especially shocking to see this happen after the amount of disappointment that Williams and players showed on Friday night. Either something isn't resonating in getting prepared and focused or there are major shortcomings on the roster.

- Garrison Brooks knocked down a jumper, which could really become a weapon as he develops some high-low chemistry with Armando Bacot.

- The execution might not get a ton better, but the bigger concern is how much intensity the Tar Heels bring in the second half. This is an opponent that lost by 23 at Georgia Tech and shouldn't be hanging around with high-end ACC teams at this stage of its rebuild.

SECOND HALF 

15:33 — This looks a little more like Carolina basketball. Everyone is running and there's very little time wasted turning missed shots into transition.

Great effort so far getting the ball to Bacot in the post, who could have a field day down there as the Phoenix gets into foul trouble. He's 3/3 with 7 points in the half.

7:10 — This one is pretty well in hand for UNC at this point, and the contrast between the Heels' activity in the second half is amazing. An excellent job getting out on the break and cutting to the basket rather than standing around and watching Cole Anthony.

:48 — UNC went up 16 then got a bit casual and allowed Elon to draw within 7 points. Somewhat understandably, focus is an issue for this team with so many newcomers on the floor.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Burgoo
Burgoo

Thanks for the great summary!


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