Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Carolina has lost 4 straight games for the first time since 2010, as the season is officially in a nosedive. The Bulldogs used a efficient second half to pull away from the undermanned Tar Heels 94-81. Even in the loss, Carolina was able to take away some positives, as for right now it;s important for this team to gain any form of confidence heading into the Christmas break. Garrison Brooks led the way in scoring, scoring 16 points on 7-11 shooting. He was the only starter to break double digits scoring the basketball, the other two players? Reserve guard Jeremiah Francis and Christian Keeling. The freshman point guard added 11 points off the bench, as he's making the argument to be the starting point guard over K.J. Smith. Keeling had his best game scoring 12 points, on 5-7 shooting. Carolina did score over 80 points for the first time on the year, but still failed to shoot over 50% for the game. For context Gonzaga shot 59% from the field, and 50% from the three point line. That was the difference in the game, and that's been the difference in the last 4 games which happen to be losses. Carolina can't make shots, and until they can they'll struggle to win games, with or without Cole Anthony.
It was likely Carolina would lose both on the trip out West. What you hoped they came home with something to build off heading into 2020. They appeared to take baby steps tonight in the loss to Gonzaga. Three things to take away:
1. Jeremiah Francis Impresses: Before entering the game against Virginia, Francis hadn't played basketball in over 2 seasons. After the game despite the loss, he was visibly happy just to be able to play the game he loves. That's the way he's played and it's been a joy to watch during these struggling times. He scored 11 points off the bench tonight, and has been willing to push the ball in transition. He's also attacks the rim with a purpose, which has created some easy looks around the basket. While he has to get into playing shape, you have to wonder how long it'll be before he starts.
2. Lack of Second Scorer Inside: Once again it was all Garrison Brooks, which is a problem. Brooks isn't the type of offensive player that can carry the scoring load on the interior, with being asked so much defensively. Armando Bacot had appeared to arrive while in the Bahamas, but since returning stateside, he's struggled mightily to produce. Maybe it's because his ankle is still bothering him, but nonetheless his team needs him to start playing the way we saw him play on Paradise Island.
3. Effort: This wasn't a issue tonight, as Carolina appeared to be invested despite the adversity of tonight's game. It's a good sign to see that the team is still willing to compete, even though the odds are stacked against them. Their effort level will determine whether or not they are competitive in games like these. If their effort keeps up, they;ll be rewarded with wins and good play at some point.
Up Next: Carolina stays out West, as they'll take on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday. CBS will have coverage of the contest between the two blue blood programs, with tip scheduled for 3 pm.
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