After having their scheduled game against Virginia Tech postponed, UNC had to scramble to find an opponent to play during the week. They were able to get Northeastern to Chapel Hill, for the latest non-conference game since 2003. As expected Carolina had their way with the Huskies, winning 82-62. After failing to put a single player in double figures scoring on Saturday, they responded tonight by putting 4, led by Day’Ron Sharpe’s 15 points. For the game UNC shot just 43%, but held the Huskies to only 36% shooting, and 33% from behind the three point line, despite making 10 triples. Carolina dominated the glass, 48-33, including 17-8 on the offensive rebounds, which the Tar Heels converted into 18 second chance points. Even though it was a non-conference game against a CAA team, Carolina got better, particularly in the second half, which is what Roy Williams is wanting from his team at this point in the season.
After a sleepy start, UNC woke up in the final minutes of the first half, and took control of the game early in the second stanza. After scoring 21 points in the first half, Tyson Walker only had 6 in the second, taking away any potential for an upset in the Smith Center. UNC’s depth was on full display tonight, as they remain undefeated at home this season:
Bigs Played Big: For the first time all season long, all 4 of the Tar Heels primary post players all played well in the same game. Garrison Brooks recorded his second double double of the season, with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Armando Bacot had a steady 9 points and 8 rebounds. Off the bench Sharpe led the team with his 15 points, and Walker Kessler had his best outing as a Tar Heel, scoring 10 points and 7 rebounds. While this team needs more consistent play from the perimeter, they continue to prove once more, why they're built to play inside-out.
Turnovers/Free Throws: This is a positive tonight for Carolina, as they only turned it over 10 times, including just 3 after the under 12 timeout in the first half. In addition to not turning the ball over, they forced 16 turnovers, and converted them into 22 points. That’s the formula for success. To go along with better ball security, they went 13-16 from the foul line, bouncing back after shooting just 50% at UVA.
Bench Points: Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe combined for 25 of the 40 bench points in tonight’s win. Andrew Platek chipped in with 9 points, R.J. Davis added 4, and blue squad member Creighton Lebo had a reverse layup, that got the bench excited in the final minutes. While they won’t get this type of bench production on a nightly basis, it’s good to see reserves, especially Davis and Kessler, progress when given the opportunity to be on the floor.
Assists: UNC’s assist to turnover ratio was 2-1 tonight, good, but not great. More importantly, Caleb Love had a career high 9 assists, with just 2 turnovers. Tonight he saw the floor better, and as a result the overall ball movement was where it needs to be now.
Up Next: It’s unclear if Saturday’s game against Louisville will go on as scheduled as their are COVID issues within the Cardinals program. If the game is played as scheduled, it’ll start at 6, on ESPN.