The North State Journal
In the home losses to both Pittsburgh and Clemson it was the failure to execute in the second half that cost Carolina chances to win ACC games. Yesterday‘s loss to Pittsburgh was more about the lack of effort from the opening tip, that hindered Carolina from winning on the road. The Panthers built a 43-23 halftime lead, as the Tar Heel offense was once again stuck in mud. In the second half Roy Williams went to a 2-3 zone for the majority of the half, showing he’s willing to adjust to try and get his team back in the game. It worked to a certain extent as Pittsburgh only scored 23 points in the second stanza, but it was the inability to make shots or convert on second chance opportunities that plagued the team once more. Xavier Johnson led the Panthers in scoring with 20 points, as his backcourt partner Trey McGowens was held to only 5 points. As for the Tar Heels, Garrison Brooks led the team in scoring with 16 points, but was only 2-8 from the foul line. Armando Bacot added 12 points, along with 11 rebounds, but even after posting a double double his toughness was in question. For the game Carolina shot 32%, while holding Pittsburgh to only 38%. The difference? Carolina was only 10-21 from the charity stripe, and only connected on 4 triples. Meanwhile Pittsburgh went 19-27 from the foul line, and converted on 7 treys.
It was another frustrating game to watch, as the Tar Heels failed to compete at the necessary level to win a road game in the ACC. The loss gives the team a second losing streak of at least 4 games this season, and it’s the first time the program is below .500 for the first time in since the 2004-05 campaign. 3 takeaways from the loss at Pittsburg:
1. Missed Free Throws: When you’re struggling to score the basketball, you have to help yourself in any way possible. Carol a failed to do that going only 10-21 from the foul line. There were times when they stepped up to the line they already looked defeated, as their confidence is all but lost. Nonetheless they need to start being more reliable at the stripe, if they want any hope of winning any games moving forward. 2. Effort: Or the lack thereof. There aren’t many times you see a UNC team get out hustled for a entire game, but from the start Pittsburgh was the more aggressive team. The Panthers wanted it more, and was clearly the more invested team. When Roy Williams shows his team the film, he’s going to see many times his team going through the motion which frustrates him to no end.
3. 2-3 Zone: The only positive was that the zone appeared to slow down the Panthers ability to drive the lane at will. The zone actually allowed Carolina to stick around in the second half, and if they would’ve converted some chances on the offensive end, the result might’ve been different. We know how much Roy Williams hates playing zone, but it may be a adjustment he has to give in to for the rest of the season with this group.
Up Next: Carolina will be on the road Wednesday when they travel to Blacksburg to play Virginia Tech. The Hokies are one of the league surprises in their first year under Mike Young. The game will start at 8 with ACC Network televising the contest.