Now THAT’S Carolina Basketball. For the first time in 2020, Carolina won a basketball game and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Entering the game 8-10 ( 1-6 ) if they wanted any chance of salvaging a season, they had to win before the month ended. And win they did. The 94-71 win was the best display of basketball we’ve seen this season from the Tar Heels. Brandon Robinson returned from injury, and scored a career best 29 points. There were a lot of questions about if Robinson could transition into a starting role in the ACC, after being a role player his first 3 seasons. The senior from Douglasville, Georgia has made the smooth look effortlessly, as he’s true he himself into a walking bucket. Armando Bacot had a quality game, scoring 19 points And grabbing 12 rebounds, giving Garrison Brooks the support he needs. Miami was without Chris Lykes it’s leading scorer, along with another starter but if there’s a team that doesn’t feel bad for a opponent being without players, it’s Carolina. The Hurricanes tried to zone the Tar Heels, but it didn’t any good. The 58% shooting is easily the best on the season, add in 43% from the three point line and you would’ve thought it was Coby White and Cam Johnson scoring for the team with argyle down its jerseys. If it’s 40 made baskets, 32 were assisted which ties a record under Roy Williams, who in the process passed his mentor Dean Smith on the all time wins list.
As odd as it may seem, the season isn’t over for the Tar Heels, despite a 9-10 record. We’re officially 7 weeks away from Selection Sunday, and we’ve seen crazier things happen in college basketball. The win over the Hurricanes gives this team a needed boost of confidence, as we head into the month of February. 3 takeaways from the first win of 2020:
1. Zone Offense: Roy Williams is one the best coaches when it comes to dissecting a zone defense. This was displayed once again against the depleted Hurricanes. Carolina got quality looks at the basket for a entire 40 minutes, and the ball movement was impeccable. Of course everything looks better when the ball goes in the basket, but this was the type of offensive performance we’re use to under the Hall of Fame head coach. Carolina won’t always shoot 58%, but it gives teams something to think about the next time they want to zone the Heels.
2. Assists on Made Baskets: Carolina assisted on 80% of its made baskets. 80%. That’s video game like numbers. The balk never stopped moving, which moved the Hurricanes defense, giving Carolina quality looks. Leaky Black looked more comfortable running the offense, and the wing players moved more confidently without the basketball. Good offense can be contagious, we’ll see if it’ll carry over to the NC State game on Monday.
3. Pierce & Keeling: The two grad transfers had been highly critofor their play, and rightfully so. Both have struggled to adjust to the ACC and Roy Williams in general. Both played yesterday with confidence, and looked like they belonged on the court. If Carolina is going to make a run at this thing, both guys are going to be intricate parts of such a turnaround. With newfound confidence we’ll see if it increases their production.
Up Next: Carolina has a quick turnaround, as they’ll head to Raleigh tomorrow and do battle with the Wolfpack. The rivalry matchup will tip at 7 with ESPN televising the game, as part of their “Big Monday” basketball slate.