Carolina opened up their portion of the 2020 Maui Invitational, and while the final score of 78-51 would let you believe it was a walk in the park, that wasn’t the case. UNLV blitzed Carolina with a 13-0 run to start the game, as Carolina was held scoreless for over 7 minutes. During that, Roy Williams not only didn’t call a timeout, but wasted no time getting into his bench to find guys that were ready to play and compete. Once the Tar Heels settled into the game, their superior size, strength and athleticism took over, as they erased that deficit to lead 37-30 at the half. In the second half, the Tar Heels defense tightened up, as they only had allowed 3 made baskets at the under 8 timeout of the second stanza. For the game, Carolina out 4 players in double figures scoring led by freshmen R.J. Davis, who paced the team with a game high 16 points. More importantly, Carolina won the battle of the backboards, out rebounding UNLV 54-35.
These types of tournaments are good for teams to find out who they are, and what they are capable of being as a team. Factor in a shortened non-conference season, and only add emphasis to Carolina getting better every time they are on the basketball court. They did that tonight, and more. Here are some takeaways from the rout of the Runnin’ Rebels:
This stood out for a variety of different reasons. First off Carolina didn’t struggle to set the tone on the glass, like they did against the College of Charleston in the season opener. The team’s leading rebounder was Leaky Black with, showing that this team is capable of not only having different leading scorers, but rebounders as well. If their 54 rebounds, 19 were offensive, which they converted into 21 second chance points. On the flip side, they limited UNLV to only 14 offensive boards, and they only allowed 9 second chance points.
2 games into his Tar Heel career, and the freshman from New York has been very impressive. Tonight he led the team in scoring, and did so in a variety of ways. He was 3-4 from behind the three point line, and was 3-3 from the foul line. While it’s too early to tell, Davis may be this team’s most gifted and versatile scorer.
We’ve talked at length about how deep this frontcourt is, and that was on display in tonight’s game. Garrison Brooks led the rotation in scoring with 14 points, on 5-13 from the field. He was also the leading rebounder as well, but he wasn’t the most impressive big man tonight. That goes to Walker Kessler, who produced 7 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. His length completely affected the game on both ends of the floor in a positive way. Add in Armando Bacot’s 12 points and 5 rebounds, and it’s easy to see why Roy Williams gets excited when he talks about the potential of this group down low. Expect Day’Ron Sharpe to bounce back tomorrow, after only scoring 1 point in tonight’s game.
We knew he was going to have a role on this team, and tonight he showed why. Platek got into double figures for the third time in his Tar Heel career, going 4-6 from the field, including 2-4 from behind the arc. He also grabbed 3 rebounds, in addition to the little things he does defensively. While you’d love to bet on having that production every time he stepped on the court, part of the Andrew Platek experience is knowing he won’t always play to our standards, or even his own. Tonight he was on the court for 16 minutes, and Carolina was better for it.