Updated: Nov 12
The Tar Heels got the 2022-23 season off to the right foot with a 69-56 win over UNC-Wilmington on Monday night, as three starters scored in double figures as the #1 team in college basketball earned a workman-like win to start their journey back to the Final Four. Hubert Davis said after the game he felt like his team played both anxious and nervous, and that makes sense since it was the first time the program played as the #1 team in the country since November of 2015. The Seahawks actually out-rebounded Carolina, as they grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, so you have to imagine that Davis has been in his team’s ear about the importance of rebounding. Additionally, despite his team not playing his best, Davis was excited to show his team the film, as he believed it was going to be easy to identify what went wrong on Monday, and how easy it’s going to be to correct issues, and get better as a collective unit.
Charleston is a familiar opponent of Carolina, as they’ve played the Tar Heels the last two seasons, including last season where Carolina was down double digits on the road. The Cougars got their season off with an 85-78 win over Chattanooga, they were led by Reyne Smith who scored 24 points in the win for Charleston. Charleston was the team to upset UNC-Wilmington in the CAA Tournament last spring, and this year they were picked to finish 5th in the CAA.
The Tar Heels only had three players score in double figures on Monday, but those were Carolina’s best players, as Caleb Love and R.J. Davis paced the team with 17 points, and Armando Bacot was right behind them with 16 points. While that may have been discouraging, you have to remember that they have to learn how to play without Brady Manek. A big reason for the lack of balanced scoring was that ball movement wasn’t crisp, but that was somewhat expected with it being the season opener.
Carolina didn’t make the kind of statement they wanted to on Monday, and while tonight doesn’t offer the ability to answer those questions, they can take another step on their journey back to the Final Four. Here’s how Carolina can build off Monday’s season-opening win:
Rebound: The most disappointing thing from Monday was that UNC-Wilmington grabbed more rebounds than the Tar Heels. Like the other night, Carolina enters tonight with more size and length and should dominate the glass. Last year in Charleston, UNC won the battle of the boards, 49-36, and Armando Bacot grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds. Expect a more committed effort from Hubert Davis’s squad tonight, as Carolina seeks to get back to their rebounding dominance from last year.
Ball Movement: In the opener, Carolina assisted on only four baskets, their fewest since losing to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament back in 1980. Caleb Love and R.J. Davis are in the process of becoming better distributors, but they have to learn how to play aggressively, and still seek their own offense.
Limit Turnovers: In Charleston’s season opener, they forced 21 Chaatnaooga turnovers, which sparked them to their 85-78 win. UNC only turned it over 9 nine times on Monday, but they will see a different type of ball pressure tonight. Charleston won’t be afraid to press Carolina full court, double-team the ball when it goes into the post, etc. On the road last year, Carolina committed 17 turnovers, which is a big reason why the Cougars built a double-digit lead. Carolina will need to be strong with the basketball, 1-5 tonight.
North Carolina - 11th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 111.9 (8th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 88.6 (14th)
College of Charleston - 186th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 99.6 (169th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 102.0 (234th)
TV Info: Tonight’s game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra, with a tip time at 7 PM.
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