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Heel Tough Blog: Furman Recap

CBS Sports

Like Saturday night, it wasn’t pretty but Carolina won their 5th straight game, as they got past scrappy Furman 74-61 behind the double-doubles of Dawson Garcia and Armando Bacot. Garcia had a team-best 20 points on 7-12 shooting, and 10 rebounds, while Armando Bacot added 14 points and grabbed a game-best, 12 boards. We knew entering the game that Furman was going to be a tough opponent, having already won at Louisville, and among the better offensive teams in all of college basketball. That was proven to be true, as they were tied with the Tar Heels 39-39 at the break. UNC started the second half on a 15-4 run, to take control of the game and never look back on the way to the win.

Carolina’s offense returned to its efficient self, as they shot 50% from the floor, despite shooting just 5-16 from behind the arc. The Tar Heels limited the Paladins to 40% shooting, and 30% from distance. Furman didn’t have the size to compete with Carolina on the glass, and the box score reflected that, as UNC out-rebounded Furman 44-25, including 12-4 on the offensive glass. Of those 12 offensive rebounds, Carolina was able to convert them into 19 second-chance points, as they had to get most of their offense in the half-court. Carolina also pounded the basketball inside to the tune of 44 points in the painted area, as opposed to 26 for the visitors. After committing 16 turnovers against Elon on Saturday, Carolina had just 8 turnovers tonight and handed out 18 assists on 30 made baskets.

As uneasy as the first half was, playing a team like Furman will be beneficial come ACC play, which is just under two weeks away. Carolina hasn’t played their best in their last two games, but have found ways to win, which is ultimately what matters:

  1. Second Halves: There is no mistaking that this team has become a second-half team. In wins over Charleston, Michigan, Georgia Tech and now Furman, Carolina has used big second halves to pave their way to victory. That means that this staff is making changes at halftime that is benefiting the team. While you’d like to see this team play better in the first half, you can’t complain about the formula as long as it is producing wins.

  2. 3 Point Defense: After starting 8-15 from behind the arc, Furman finishes just 2-18, to go 10-33 for the game. Carolina did a much better job in the second half, closing out on Alex Hunter, and that led to a plethora of misses. The Tar Heels are much improved in this category when you compare them to past teams, they still have more room for improvement, but this team is forming a defensive identity, led by Leaky Black.

  3. Rebounds: It’s is refreshing to see that even in a new playing style, Carolina still values rebounding the basketball, and tonight it powered their offense. Armando Bacot had a game-high 12 rebounds, as Garcia added 10. Caleb Love added 6, and Leaky Black added 5 as Carolina is getting rebounding contributions from all areas on the floor.

  4. Leaky Black: Leaky had his best offensive game of the season, scoring a season-best 9 points, on 4-5 shooting including a made 3. This year Carolina hasn’t had needed him to score much this season, tonight they did, and he delivered. The reason we’re seeing the best version of Leaky is he has a much more defined role and is making the most of minutes on the floor.

  5. Front-Court: Not sure how many times Carolina will win this season when Caleb Love only scores 10, and R.J. Davis only adds 6, but Carolina got a combined 47 points from the trio of Armando Bacot, Dawson Garcia, Brady Manek. We’ve been waiting for all three of them to play well simultaneously, tonight was that night.

Up Next: Carolina heads to Las Vegas, as they will take on #4 UCLA in the annual CBS Sports Classic. The game will tip at 3 PM on CBS.

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