North Carolina makes another trip to the Maui Invitational, although the scenery isn’t quite the same as in the Tar Heels’ previous trips.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament has been moved onto the mainland, 4,500 miles east, to Asheville. The Tar Heels will open their tournament run against the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV.
Vegas lost its opener, against Montana State, after giving up 10-of-18 on three-point shots. Carolina, who hit just 4-of-18 in its opening win over College of Charleston, will look to get its perimeter game on track against the Rebels.
UNLV only returns three contributors from last season, although, as Roy Williams said, there were players sitting out last year due to transfer who are now eligible, so the team should have chemistry.
The Runnin’ Rebels are led by Bryce Hamilton, who opened the season with 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
UNC is behind schedule, as Roy Williams said prior to the opener. The Tar Heels are working in six freshmen, including two in the opening night starting lineup. The pandemic-shortened preseason, without a secret scrimmage or exhibition game, means that the youngsters are learning on the floor, in games that count.
Williams will need to find a guard rotation between freshmen Caleb Love and RJ Davis and senior Andrew Platek. The frontcourt, which features senior Garrison Brooks, sophomore Armando Bacot and freshman Day’Ron Sharpe, also needs sorting out.
The Tar Heels will also look to get more time for freshmen Walker Kessler and Puff Johnson, who missed time due to COVID protocols in the preseason and just got quick cups of coffee in the opener.
Same starters as in the opener for UNC: Black, Love, Davis, Bacot, Brooks
Roy Williams didn't go with the Hawaiian shirt for the opener. He's wearing a blue sweater vest over a white shirt.
Rough start for UNC as UNLV shows it can hit wide-open threes. Rebels up 11-0 and getting every rebound, it seems.
UNC 0-for-6 from the field. Stopped to mope a bit after the last miss and gave up a dunk and foul at the other end. Vegas up 13-0
The starting lineup looks ready to defend its title as the worst plus-minus combination so far this season.
Williams puts in Kessler early. Nothing doing. Another miss. Another Vegas rebound.
Sharpe misses two free throws, and UNC is now 0-for-8 from the floor. 13-0, Vegas.
UNC will not be shut out! Platek hits a three. It's now 13-3
Vegas has now missed a couple threes, but it's not because of anything UNC is doing on defense, because the Heels are simply not defending them. They're having a guy go flying at the shooter after he's set and releasing.
UNC is always willing to risk some outside shots on defense, but this is shades of Dean Smith right after the line was implemented. It's like an afterthought.
Things are stabilizing. Carolina has hit back-to-back threes and have extended out the defense. Lead is down to 20-15
Everything Brooks does, he seems to be moving away from the basket. Every shot, he's on his way backward as it goes up. Not sure what's going on with him.
UNC comes down twice with a chance to lead, instead has back to back turnovers. Vegas up 24-22 and gets a third straight turnover
Leaky Black hits a three to tie things at 27. Then UNLV throws it away and we go to the under four. UNC tied and with the ball.
UNC on a 9-0 run, pulls in front by four and shooting free throws for more. Not sure ESPN has noticed, because they're busy talking about growing pandemic beards (complete with split screens).
It's like they started their blowout material and haven't noticed the rally
A 15-3 run closes the half, with UNC up 37-30.
UNC opens the half on a 13-1 run. UNLV has missed 10 straight shots to open the half.
UNC is pulling away, 57-36 as we hit the under 12.
And that'll do it. Plenty of filler in the broadcast as UNC cruises to a 78-51 win