In blowout fashion, Carolina advanced to play in tomorrow’s Quarterfinal action of the 68th ACC Tournament after a 101-59 rout of Notre Dame tonight in Greensboro. Carolina, which was without Garrison Brooks, didn't miss a beat following Saturday’s big win over Duke, opening up a 14 point halftime lead, as they scored 50 points in the first half, the first time they’ve done so under Roy Williams. After Notre Dame made it a 12 point margin in the second half, Carolina went on an extended 37-2 run to put the game away effectively. UNC shot 51% from the field, including going 9-24 from behind the three point line. When Carolina wasn’t making shots, they were rebounding their misses, as they hauled in 25 offensive rebounds, which they turned in 27 second chance points. The 25 offensive rebounds were the most ever by the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament. As well as Carolina played on the offensive end, they were dialed in defensively as well, holding Notre Dame to just 31% shooting for the game. After allowing 11 made three’s against the Fighting Irish in January, UNC allowed just 7 made triples on 26 attempts.
As you could expect with the point total, Carolina’s offense was balanced as they put 5 players in double figures scoring, led by Armando Bacot’s 20 points, to go along with his 13 rebounds. In the absence of Garrison Brooks, Carolina’s frontcourt combined for 50 points and 35 rebounds, as Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler all recorded double doubles. In their first ever ACC Tournament action, both Caleb Love and R.J. Davis both reached double figures scoring as well, as the young guards are continuing to grow, and improve the more they get to play.
This wasn’t the nail biting finish we got between these two teams back in early January, as UNC rolled to their largest margin of victory in the ACC Tournament in program history. The biggest question entering tonight’s game, was which version of Carolina would show up, and tonight it was the version that can cause problems both in Greensboro, and the NCAA Tournament:
Front Court Play: There’s not a lot of negative things you could say about the play of the front court, as they simply dominated the game from the onset. While they all reached double figures scoring, it was their play on the defensive end that allowed the Tar Heels to run away with tonight’s game. All 3 did a fantastic job when switched onto the perimeter, and didn’t allow Notre Dame to penetrate the lane. Walker Kessler recorded 8 blocks which is the most ever by a Tar Heel in ACC Tournament play. Overall the team had 12 blocks, which is a program best in the event. It’s unknown if Garrison Brooks will be able to go tomorrow night or not, but UNC can rely on their other big guys to step up once again.
Defense: All the talk will be about how they shot and rebounded the ball on the offensive end, but it was their defense that set the tone, and made it a long night for the Fighting Irish. For all the struggles for the inexperienced back court, they’ve been able to dominate the game on the defensive end in their big ACC wins. The key for the Tar Heels is to defend the three point line, and they did so to the tune of allowing just 27% shooting from behind the arc. They’ll need a similar tomorrow night against Virginia Tech, which plays a similar style to Notre Dame.
Rebounding: It’s not hard to win when you out-rebound your opponent 54-31. There was a time that Carolina had more offensive rebounds, than Notre Dame had total rebounds. Carolina was a little suspect on the defensive glass though, as they allowed 15 offensive rebounds for the Fighting Irish, which they converted in 13 second chance points.
Free Throws/Turnovers: It was as complete an effort we’ve seen from the Tar Heels this season, as they shot the ball well from the foul line, and took care of it too. UNC was 14-18 from the charity stripe, and committed just 11 turnovers.
Roy Williams: With tonight’s win, Williams tied Bob Knight on the all time wins list with 902. He’ll have a chance to surpass the Hall of Fame head coach tomorrow night against Virginia Tech.
Up Next: It’ll be another late tip for the Tar Heels, as they’ll take on the Virginia Tech Hokies at 9 pm. The game will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2