That was a rough one, wasn’t it? Although the Tar Heels were able to pull away late for the 76-61 victory, it was a rough start for Roy Williams crew, who shot just 12-29 from the field and turned the basketball over nine times in the first half, limping into halftime with just a three-point lead against a Gardner-Webb team that entered the game with two bad losses to start the season. Cole Anthony struggled in the first half, despite leading the team in scoring, as he turned the ball over three times and shot just 3-8 from the field. He was one of four Tar Heels that shot under 50% from the field in the first half and hit the only three point shot for a Tar Heel team that shot just 1-10 from three in the first half. The Tar Heels also held just a +6 rebound advantage at the half, thanks in large part to Armando Bacot, who had seven of the team 19 first half rebounds and was a lone bright spot overall early on.
The second half went a little smoother for the Tar Heels, as Anthony came alive, scoring 18 of his 28 points in the second half. That was symbolic of a better half shooting from the field and rebounding the basketball, as the team shot 50% from the field and was +15 on the glass. The Tar Heels still struggled to hold on to the basketball, though, as they turned it over seven more times in the second half.
This was far from a great performance for the Tar Heels on Friday night, especially on the offensive end where the search for consistent scoring options outside of Cole Anthony continues. The good news is, through all of these struggles, the Tar Heels are still 3-0. Now the question becomes can they round into form in time for what will be a stiff test when they head to the Bahamas for the Battle for Atlantis?
-After two huge rebounding performances in the first two games of the season, Cole Anthony finished with just one rebound on Friday night. That was the lowest number of any of the Tar Heels five starters.
-One of the biggest concerns that we discussed on the podcast earlier this week was a positive for the Tar Heels on Friday night. After shooting just 26-47 from the free throw line in the first two games of the season, the Heels finished the game 19-25 from the free throw line, headlined by Anthony’s 11-13 night from the charity stripe.
-The other concern that was brought up was another positive for the Tar Heels against the Bulldogs. After creating just 23 fastbreak points in the first two games of the season, the Tar Heels poured in 22 fastbreak points on Friday night.
-In his return after leaving the UNC-Wilmington game early, Armando Bacot posted his first career double-double. Bacot finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting and had 11 rebounds to lead the team.
-Christian Keeling had his best performance of his short Tar Heel career, dropping nine points on 4-9 shooting, ripping down four rebounds and dishing out two assists
-Even with the lack of depth on the bench, the Tar Heels were still able to compile 20 points from the bench on Friday night. Andrew Platek led the way with nine points, while Justin Pierce finished with eight points.