In their best played game of the season, the Tar Heels NCAA tournament resume got a huge boost on Saturday night. In dominating fashion, the Tar Heels stomped all over the Louisville Cardinals, notching a 99-54 win. The win gives the Tar Heels an overall record of 14-7, 8-5 in ACC play. The Tar Heels are now 8-0 when playing in the Dean Smith Center. Whether lined up through Twitter or not, keep the home games coming.
The game was close early, but the Tar Heels used a 21-6 run spanning the final seven minutes of the first half to build a 48-29 halftime lead. After a brief turnover plagued start to the second half, the Tar Heels again found their stride. A late second half 20-0 run gave the Tar Heels their largest lead of the game, 49.
Yes, COVID-19 caused a 19-day layoff for the Cardinals, and yes they were without Josh Nickelberry and Aidan Igiehon, but the bottom line is, the Tar Heels came to play. The game looked and felt like true Carolina basketball, for maybe the first time in close to two years. The Tar Heels took care of the basketball (only 11 turnovers) hit open shots from the flow of the offense, played good defense, and rebounded. It truly was as well-rounded of a game as it sounds, minus free throw shooting.
Tar Heel Takeaways:
*No matter your opponent, if you shoot 60% from the field, 44% from three, and win the rebounding and turnover battle, you are going to win a lot of games.
*This win is a much needed NCAA tournament resume booster. At tip-off, ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi had Carolina as an 11 seed. This win will go a long way for hopefully cementing Carolina in the field of 64. Again, Louisville was short handed and coming off a Covid layoff, but no one expected a 45-point win. The fashion in which Carolina put together a full game is encouraging.
*Players on this team learning their roles, this team learning to play together, this team learning to win together, and this team gelling at the right time has been talked about since pre-season. Is now the time?
*The most important thing moving forward is consistency. Can the Tar Heels play at this level for their remaining four games? The talent is there. Will the energy and focus match it?
*Free throw shooting-in such a dominating win, it can be easy to overlook the flaws. We cannot ignore that Carolina shot 7/18 for 39% from the free throw line. It didn’t cost us tonight, but the struggle is real. It is also season long. It is something that desperately needs improved if the Heels are going to finish the season on a positive note.
Leading scorers-Sharpe-21 ,Walton-19, Bacot-14
Leading rebounders-Sharpe-11, Bacot-9, Black-7
Next up for the Tar Heels-February 24th against Marquette. The game is scheduled for 7:00 pm eastern time.
Roy's Boys Podcast: