It wasn’t pretty but Carolina snapped their two game losing skid with a 73-67 home win over North Carolina Central yesterday. The Tar Heels were originally supposed to play Elon, but COVID issues within the Phoenix program forced the game to be initially postponed then cancelled. With only a limited number of non-conference games this season, Carolina made it a point to find another opponent to play, which is why they faced the Eagles.
Carolina got more than they asked for from the small school from Durham, as Central held an 11 point lead at the under 12 timeout in the first half. The Tar Heels would close the half on a 22-8 run to take a 30-27 halftime lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Armando Bacot paced Carolina with 19 points on 6-7 shooting, as he was one of four Tar Heels to reach double figures. Caleb Love bounced back from an uneven performance in the loss at Iowa earlier this week, with 12 points and 4 assists. Roy Williams has something working bringing Andrew Platek and Day’Ron Sharpe off the bench, as for the second consecutive contest they’ve scored double figures despite not starting. Carolina shot 46% from the field, despite only shooting 13% from behind the three point line. They out-rebounded the Eagles 37-25, converting 11 offensive rebounds into 16 second chance points.
Had there been fans in the stands there would’ve been an uneasy feeling in that first half, before Carolina got it together. They found a way to win, despite not playing their best basketball, and that’s something this young team can build off of. With that in mind they’ll have to clean up some stuff before they play Ohio State next Saturday. Here’s what stood out in yesterday’s win:
Slow Starts: Carolina has taken the floor 6 times this season, and besides the season opener, they’ve yet to start fast. Once again they dug themselves into an early hole, that they were able to crawl out of. We’ve learned a lot about this team already, I think it’s safe to say this group won’t be known for how they start games.
Turnovers: It had to be disappointing and frustrating for Roy Williams as he watched his team continue to not value the basketball. They committed 18 turnovers in the win yesterday afternoon, which the Eagles converted into 16 points. Same as the slow starts, it appears that turnovers will be an issue for this team all season long.
3 Point Shooting: It wasn’t there yesterday, as Carolina only made 2 of 15 attempts. More worrisome is that the two makes weren’t buy starters, but by Andrew Platek who came off the bench to score 11 points. After shooting 40% from three on Tuesday, they took a step back as they are still searching for consistency
Dynamic Bench Duo: Back to back games Day’Ron Sharpe and Andrew Platek have provided a lift off the bench for the Tar Heels. They combined for 23 points yesterday, as they are carrying the bulk of the scoring load off the bench for Carolina to start the season. Platek’s has displayed the experience you’d expect him to have being a 4 year player, while not many teams have a big man to contain the energy and effort Sharpe brings to the floor. While fans may want to see these two in the starting lineup, Roy Williams likes having the type of bench production he’s getting from these two guys.
Up Next: Carolina is heading to Cleveland, Ohio to take on Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic next Saturday. The game against the Buckeyes will tip off at 4:30 on CBS.