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Heel Tough Blog: Indiana Recap


Well, that wasn’t fun as for the third straight game, the Tar Heels fell short, as they lost to Indiana 77-65, in their final ACC/Big 10 Challenge contest. Offense didn’t come easy, as Carolina shot only 34% from the field, and 28% from behind the three-point line. Meanwhile, Indiana shot an efficient 50% from the field, and while they were only 3-13 from behind the arc, they dominated the painted area 50-24. Four Tar Heel starters did score in double figures, led by Pete Nance’s 15 points, on 4-11 shooting. Armando Bacot, who was playing through an ankle, and shoulder injury, did record a double-double, scoring 12 points, and grabbing 10 rebounds. Caleb Love and R.J. Davis combined to score 24 points, but were only 9-27 from the field, as their struggles continue.

Indiana entered this game ranked inside the top 10, for the first time in six seasons, and if they play like they did tonight, it’s going to be hard to beat this team. Mike Woodson has restored pride to the Hoosier program, and they displayed a level of toughness, Carolina just couldn’t match. All-American candidate, Trayce Jackson-Davis was the best player on the floor in this game, scoring 21 points on 9-16 shooting, and also grabbed 10 rebounds. He got help from Xavier Johnson (20 points), and freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino (14 points).

The non-conference that Carolina put together for this season wasn’t easy by any means, but it’s hard to imagine anyone envisioned seeing this team losing three straight games in November, but that’s the reality of the situation. The good news is that the team was basically in this same situation just last season, and we all know how the season would eventually unfold. The difference is that Brady Manek isn’t on this roster, and blaming his absence for the struggles would just be an excuse, and nobody wants to hear that, let alone have time for it. That means that Hubert Davis is challenged with trying to figure out, how to get the best out of his team, before a once-promising season, quickly becomes a forgotten one:

  1. Halfcourt Offense: As Jay Bilas said multiple times on the broadcast, Carolina was forced to try to generate its offense well beyond the three-point line, and that often resulted in them playing one on one. While you have to credit Indiana for taking UNC out of its offense, the struggles are a result of their own doing. Of the 20 made baskets, only 5 were assisted on, as ball movement isn't visible right now. Shot selection still continues to plague Caleb Love, and R.J. Davis continues to get good looks, but just can’t get one to fall. Pete Nance at one point scored 12 straight points but was a non-factor in the second half.

  2. Points in the Paint: UNC was outscored in the paint, 50-24. 50-24. And that’s with having a preseason All-American in Armando Bacot, and guards that have lived at the rim in the past. The first issue is on the defensive end, as Carolina simply couldn’t contain the ball, and when an Indiana player got into the lane, simply wouldn’t contest the shot. On offense, Carolina isn’t attacking the rim enough, considering their struggles shooting from the perimeter.

  3. Perimeter Shooting: UNC was only 5-18 from behind the arc, with Love and Davis combining for just 3-9. That’s not good enough, and until that number changes, it's hard to imagine this team winning games.

  4. Rebounding: For the fourth time this season, the Heels lost the battle of the boards, as Indiana out-rebounded Carolina 40-39. Carolina did grab 12 offensive rebounds and converted those into 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the poor shooting night.

  5. Turnovers: The number of turnovers wasn't the issue necessarily (10), but it was the points scored off turnovers (17), that, really did Carolina in. They committed four live-ball turnovers, that led to Indiana baskets the other way, which was just too much to overcome.

Up Next: It doesn’t get any easier after tonight, as UNC opens up ACC play on Sunday at Virginia Tech. The game is set to tip at 3 PM on the ACC Network.


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