For the third consecutive season, Carolina has lost in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, as the Iowa Hawkeyes proved worthy of their #3 ranking, in a 93-80 win on Tuesday night. Despite only allowing an average of just 60 points per game, Iowa exploited the Tar Heels three point defense, as they connected on 17 of 40 shots from behind the arc. While Luka Garza was impressive, it was the play of Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp, who both nailed 5 three pointers, that paced the Iowa offense. Carolina trailed 43-31 at the half, but battled all the way back to take a brief 68-67 lead, before a 25-12 run by Iowa determined the outcome of this game. The Tar Heels had their highest scoring output of the season, and they got their offense in different ways. Garrison Brooks led the team with 17 points, as he was one of three starters to score in double figures. Day’Ron Sharpe scored 13 off the bench to go along with Andrew Platek’s 10, as the bench gave the Tar Heels 27 points. Ultimately their undoing was the same as in the Texas game. Carolina committed 18 turnovers, and was just 12-20 from the foul line. Right now this team isn’t good enough to leave points at the foul line or give the ball away as carelessly as they are right now.
Despite back to back losses, there’s no reason to panic about this team just yet. While they haven’t played as well as they could have, they’ve still shown a desire to compete, and a willingness to get better. Losing isn’t fun but the lessons this team is learning will hopefully pay dividends down the road in ACC play. Here’s what stood out in last night’s defeat:
Caleb Love: I don’t have to tell you that he needs to get better, because you probably already know that, he knows that as well. He scored 11 points, but was just 4-13 from the field. He handed out 6 assists, but turned it over 4 times. Like with most freshmen, he’s struggling with consistency, as was expected with a pandemic offseason. He displayed the ability to push the ball up the floor after a made basket, which is when Carolina is running at its best. His decision making needs to get better, you're hoping that will happen the more he plays.
Foul Trouble: The Tar Heels may have the deepest frontcourt in college basketball, but it wasn’t deep enough to handle Luka Garza. At the under 8 minute timeout of the second half, Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot and Day’Ron Sharpe all had 4 fouls, Not having their physicality on the floor really affected how the game finished up.
Turnovers: This may be this team’s fatal flaw as the season moves along. After having almost a week to work on taking the basketball, they turned it over 18 times, which turned into 21 points for Iowa. Turnovers in general will kill you, live ball turnovers like this team commits, makes it that much tougher to win. It was expected to start two freshmen in the backcourt, but that excuse can only last for so long.
Three Point Defense: Iowa is a really good offensive team, and maybe Carolina is as good a defensive as they appeared to be in Asheville a week ago. Nonetheless, allowing a team to go 17-40 from behind the three point line, is egregious. Luka Garza warrants being double teamed when the ball gets to him on the post, but when you have two snipers connecting from deep, you probably shouldn't leave them as open as Carolina did.
Offensive Production: If there’s one thing to leave this loss positive about, it’s that the offense appears to be finding itself. The 80 points are the most they’ve scored this season, and they did it in typical Carolina fashion. They shot 48% from the field, 40% from three, had 14 second chance points, 27 bench points, and 24 fast break points. If the Tar Heels can play to that level of offense more consistently moving forward, the wins will follow.