The Tar Heels return to action tonight, as they host The Citadel, before traveling to MSG this weekend to take on Ohio State. The last time we saw Carolina, they earned their first win against a Power 5 opponent, as they beat Georgia Tech, 75-59, in the process winning their first ACC game of the season. The win over Georgia Tech was powered by the double-doubles of R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot, as UNC snapped a four-game losing streak in the process. The challenge now is to carry the offensive success from Saturday, into this game, which serves as basically the final tuneup before seeing Power 5 competition the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs come to Chapel Hill with a 5-4 record but are coming off a 79-57 loss to the same College of Charleston team that Carolina beat 102-86. They are led in scoring by Stephen Clark, who averages 16.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, on 53% shooting from the field. The only other player on the roster to average double figures scoring is Austin Ash, who brings with him 15.1 points, and 4.8 rebounds on 38% shooting from the field. The Citadel average just over 71 points per game, on just 43% shooting from the field, and 32% from behind the three-point line.
One of the many things to keep an eye on in this game will be Armando Bacot’s pursuit of breaking the record for the most double-doubles in UNC history. In the win over Georgia Tech, Bacot tied the mark set by Billy “the Kangaroo Kid” Cunningham, who set the mark of 61 double-doubles, as Coach Smith was establishing his basketball empire in the 1960s. There have been some significant records set in the Smith Center, most notably when Tyler Hansbrough set the record for most points in UNC history, in a blowout win over Evansville during the 2008-09 national championship season. Armando is in a position to set the record, after tying the record for most double-doubles in a single season, when he had 31 during the run to the national championship game, last year.
Hubert Davis said after the win over Georgia Tech, that in the final three minutes of the first half, he felt like he was watching Carolina Basketball, for the first time all season long. In those three minutes, UNC would outscore the Yellow Jackets, 11-0, and established a 39-26 halftime margin, which was too much for the visitors to overcome. Now the Tar Heels will seek to build off Saturday, and in the process, stay perfect at home:
Build Off Offensive Success: Carolina may have only shot 47% from the field, and 23% from behind the three-point line against Georgia Tech, but you could argue it was the best offense they’ve run all season long. They assisted on a season-high 56% of their made field goals, and the shot selection was much better. Hopefully, that was a stepping stone for an offense, that has the potential to be very explosive, but only if they play as a cohesive unit, and not settling for isolation situations. Expect to see more of R.J. Davis getting Carolina into their offensive sets, along with a lineup that features three guards, a forward, and a big, to open the floor up for driving lanes.
Establish Presence on Offensive Glass: The Citadel average over 28 defensive rebounds per game, which is the 30th best in the country. On Saturday, UNC won the battle of the boards, 43-22, including 12-1 on the offensive glass. There have been times in the past when Carolina’s best offense came after grabbing misses, and while that may not be true about this team, it’s evident when the Heels hit the offensive glass, they put up the type of numbers on offense you typically see from the Carolina program.
Limit Turnovers: In addition to being a solid defensive team, The Citadel forces over 11 turnovers per game. The only way for the Bulldogs to compete in this game is for them to force turnovers, and score off of them. As long as the Heels value possessions, it’s hard to see a path to a Bulldogs upset.
Carolina is 19-0 all-time against The Citadel, the most wins over a single opponent, without a single loss. The last contest game all the way back in 1991, was a 97-58 Carolina decision, where Hubert Davis scored 16 points.
North Carolina - 25th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.0 (10th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 95.6 (57th)
The Citadel - 275th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 97.9 (270th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 106.4 (267th)
North Carolina - 37th.
The Citadel - 272nd.
TV Info: Tonight’s game will tip at 7 PM, on ESPN2.
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