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Heel Tough Blog: Charleston Southern Recap

Bob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports

In the final non-conference game of the season, the Tar Heels turned in one of, if not the best regular season performances under Hubert Davis, routing overmatched Charleston Southern, 105-60. Six different Tar Heels scored in double figures, led once again by R.J. Davis, who scored 20 points and handed out 10 assists, giving him his first double-double pertaining to points and assists. Jalen Washington provided 17 points off the bench, as he provided a glimpse of what we can expect from him in a larger role next season. Elliot Cadeau scored all 13 of his points in the second half, seeking his offense for the first time in a UNC uniform. Seth Trimble added 12 more off the bench, to go with the 12 points from Armando Bacot, and Harrison Ingram rounded out the double figures scoring, with a 10-point effort. Carolina scored 105 points on 56%, including a 42% shooting night from behind the arc, as they were 11-26 from behind the three-point line. 

The game was 14-9 at the first media timeout of the game, as Carolina’s defense wasn’t as locked in as their offense was. That changed in the next sequence of action, when Carolina would go on a 12-0 run, and never look back. Carolina would eventually build a 51-28 halftime margin, behind 43% shooting from long range. 

Given the struggles of Charleston Southern entering the game, Carolina was tasked with building off their defensive effort against Oklahoma last week, and that is exactly what happened. The Bucs shot just 33% from the floor and committed 12 turnovers, which led to 17 Tar Heel points. 

This was the first home game since the first Saturday of December, and the performance would lead you to believe that the team was happy to be back in front of the Carolina faithful. It was also the first home game since the passing of Carolina great, and Tar Heel Sports Network broadcaster Eric Montross. There was a tribute video before tonight’s game, along with a moment of silence. Play-by-play broadcaster, Jones Angell called the game solo, as they left the Big Fella’s seat open tonight in honor of his life and legacy. 

Carolina did exactly what it was supposed to do against a team ranked 339th in both KenPom and the NET, but there’s still a lot to be excited about, and to take away from one of the most dominant performances under Hubert Davis:

  1. R.J. Davis: More history for the senior guard, as he became the first player in program history to score 20 points, hand out 10 assists, and total 5 steals, all in just 26 minutes of action. Davis continues to play at an All-American level, as he's officially emerged as the leader of this team, on and off the court. 

  2. Jalen Washington Breaks Out: The reserve big man scored double figures for the third time in his career, as he scored 17 points, and grabbed 7 rebounds in his 16 minutes off the bench. Washington was 7-9 from the field, including 2-3 from distance. Hubert Davis mentioned in his interview on the Tar Heel Sports Network that they’ve practiced playing him alongside Armando Bacot, something to keep an eye on as we enter conference play.

  3. Rebounding: After being outrebounded 126-99 in their last three games, Carolina couldn’t afford to get owned on the glass by a mid-major, and they made sure that didn’t happen. Armando Bacot grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds, on the way to outrebounding CSU 46-25. At least six different Tar Heels totaled at least 4 rebounds in the game, proving that they are capable of being a complete rebounding team. 

  4. Bench Production: Given the margin, it was easy for Hubert Davis to give his reserves the most run of the season, and they made the most of it. Not only did Washington score in double figures, but so did Seth Trimble, who scored 12 points, and grabbed 6 rebounds. Jae’Lyn Withers had his best offensive game in over a month, scoring 5 points in his 16 minutes. Zayden High also got more first-half minutes, bringing energy and intensity off the bench, including picking up a technical foul. Carolina won’t get 43 bench points every night, but they have done a much better job building more depth ahead of conference play. 

  5. Elliot Cadeau: Many Carolina fans want the freshman point guard to seek his offense more often, and you can see why. He hunted his shot in the second half, and it led to him scoring 13 points, on 5-9 shooting, as he even knocked down a triple. Cadeau is a pass-first point guard, and that’s not going to change, but like the player he often gets compared to (Kendall Marshall), his offensive growth might be what determines the ceiling for this team in ACC play and beyond. 

Up Next: It’s all ACC play from here on out for Carolina, and first up is Pittsburgh, on Tuesday night. That game is set to tip at 7 PM on ESPN.

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