One down, four to go. The Tar Heels began the never-before-completed task of winning five games in five days in the ACC Tournament on Tuesday night as they faced the Virginia Tech Hokies in Greensboro. Looking to avenge the loss early this year in double overtime in Blacksburg, the Tar Heels used a big second half to pull away to a huge 78-56 victory to do just that.
Second team All-ACC member Garrison Brooks just continued his hot finish to the season, scoring 20 points for the seventh straight game, leading the Tar Heels in scoring once again. He was 6-11 from the field and had an even better night at the free throw, a spot where he continues to improve, going 8-10 at the charity stripe. While he finished the night with just four rebounds, his production wasn’t as needed with the performances of others on the glass.
While Brooks led the team in scoring, the best overall performance came from Brandon Robinson, as he kept his Carolina career alive for at least one more game. Robinson finished the night with 17 points on 5-8 shooting, all five made field goals coming from behind the arc. He had an active night on the boards, corralling six rebounds and was fantastic on the defensive end, as well, even compiling two huge blocks.
Cole Anthony was looking to bounce back from a rough outing against the rival Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night and while he didn’t quite respond with a huge performance, he did exactly what the Tar Heels needed him to do. He finished the night just 3-10 from the field, but had a couple of important baskets and finished second on the team with eight rebounds on Tuesday night. Anthony also dished out four assists on the night, three of which came in the second half, to help the Tar Heels pull away from the Hokies.
The Tar Heels had a huge second half, converting on 17 of their 31 field goal attempts in the second half, including 4-6 from downtown. Eleven of the Tar Heels fifteen second chance points came in the second half, aided by seven offensive rebounds, something that was a staple of the Tar Heels offensive performance on Tuesday night. These are all good signs for a team that needs it’s offense to get in a rhythm if they want to make a run.
The Tar Heels did exactly what they needed to do against the Hokies. Christian Keeling looks to have avoided a major injury as he returned in the second half and the offense picked up right where they left off during their three-game winning streak at the end of the season. Now they face a team that they beat during that three-game winning streak on Wednesday night in Syracuse.
-After ripping down 19 offensive rebounds and failing to turn that into second chance points against the Blue Devils on Saturday night, the Tar Heels had no such trouble against the Hokies. The Tar Heels ripped down 13 offensive boards and turned those into 15 second chance points, most of that production coming from Armando Bacot, who had a much better night with his second chance opportunities. Not only were the Tar Heels dominant on the offensive glass, they finished the with a 45-30 edge over the Hokies on the glass.
-Bacot had his best performance in recent memory for the Tar Heels, finishing with a double-double and looking as strong with the basketball as he has maybe all season. The Tar Heels need that aggressive play to continue to carry over for the rest of this week, especially the further they advance.
-After assisting on just seven made baskets on Saturday night, the Tar Heels finished with 14 assists as a team on Tuesday. The Tar Heels will need to continue to share the basketball efficiently if they want to have a lengthy stay in Greensboro.