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Heel Tough Blog: Georgia Tech Preview


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After a week off, Carolina returns to action tonight, as they host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The last time we saw Carolina, they turned in arguably their best performance of the season, dominating Virginia 74-58, behind Armando Bacot’s historic 29 point, 22 rebound performance. The win improved Carolina’s record to 11-4 overall and 3-1 in the ACC.


Back when Georgia Tech hosted the Tar Heels back in early December, they were 5-2 and were believed to be rounding into form, a year after winning the ACC Tournament, and making a return to the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they are just 2-6 in their last 8 games, 1-4 in league play, a far cry from where we thought this was team was headed just a month ago. Michael DeVoe continues to have a spectacular season, as he leads the team in scoring at over 20 points per game. He’s doing that while shooting 49% from the field, and 41% from behind the three-point line. Jordan Usher is also having a great season individually, as he’s second on the team in scoring, and leads the team in rebounds. Josh Pastner is still trying to figure out how to replicate the success of last season, but that’s hard to do given the experience lost to graduation.


After a performance like the one on Saturday would leave you to believe that a week off couldn’t come at a worse time for Carolina. It’s actually the opposite. The week between games means that Hubert Davis gets back Dawson Garcia (concussion) and Kerwin Walton (health and safety protocols). Add in the return to school for the start of the spring semester, Carolina was able to ease into this week, with a full slate of games awaiting them.


Despite their record, Georgia Tech will offer a unique challenge for the Tar Heels, with their multiple defense looks, in the same possession. The Tar Heels will have a challenge within themselves, as they try to have back-to-back good performances, as they are still trying to become a consistently good team, night in, night out:


  1. Defense/Contain DeVoe: Against Virginia, the Tar Heels turned in their best defensive performance you might say, after a week off, they need to replicate that same effort, against a slightly better offensive team. In the first matchup, DeVoe only scored 15 points, on 6-13, as Georgia Tech shot just 6-16 from behind the three-point. Leaky Black drew the assignment on DeVoe, so you’d imagine he’d draw it again tonight.

  2. Play In Rhythm of the Offense: The week layoff will most affect the offense the most, so Carolina needs to be patient, and not force bad shots. Georgia Tech is going to throw multiple defensive looks at the Tar Heels, to slow the game down, and make them work in the half-court. The ball still needs to touch Armando Bacot’s hands as frequently as possible, as the Jackets don’t have anybody on their team that can defend him for 40 minutes.

  3. Get Kerwin Walton & Dawson Garcia Involved: Getting back Garcia and Walton means Carolina is back to full strength for the first time since before Christma, and the Tar Heels need both of them to be contributors moving forward. Before the injury, Garcia was a starter with Manek coming off the bench, you’d have to imagine Hubert Davis wants to start with that lineup once again. As for Kerwin, he was starting to show signs of returning to form from last year, before entering protocols. It’ll be important for him to continue to get back on track, for this team to be the best version of itself.


Series History: Carolina is 70-27 all-time against Georgia Tech, including 30-6 in Chapel Hill, and 25-5 in the Smith Center. Oddly enough though, the last time the Jackets were in Chapel Hill, they outscored Carolina 96-83, and at one point led 30-6. Hopefully, that won’t be the case tonight.


KenPom:


UNC - 28th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 116.3 (15th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.6 (81st)


Georgia Tech - 119th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 103.9 (167th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.5 (79th)


NET:


UNC - 33rd.


Georgia Tech - 153rd.


TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 8 PM, on the ACC Network.


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