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Heel Tough Blog: UC Riverside Recap


Chris Seward - Associated Press

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but Carolina improved to 3-0 on the 2023-24 season, after taking down UC Riverside from the Big West 77-52. Only two starters for Carolina scored in double figures, led by Armando Bacot, who totaled a game-high, 21 points on 7-11 shooting. The other Tar Heel starter to reach the double-figure plateau was Harrison Ingram, who scored 10 points, on 4-11 shooting, but he grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds. Carolina led 37-26 at the half, after shooting 18% from the field. In the second half, Carolina’s defense would fuel their offense, as they utilized a 14-0 run, to make 51-26. It took the Highlanders to nearly the 10:30 mark of the second half, losing all hope of pulling the upset in Chapel Hill. Carolina held UC Riverside to just 8-31 in the second half, as they imposed their will on that end of the floor.


Hubert Davis wanted to get his perimeter shooting in a better rhythm, after the slow start from behind the arc, and while that didn’t happen, he should still be pleased with the way his offense played. They may not have scored more than 80 for the first time, but they scored 37 first-half points while shooting just 18% from the field. The 40 points in the second half, means that the UNC has scored at least 40 points or more, in 5 of the 6 halves they’ve played so far this season. They scored those 40 second-half points, on 52% shooting from the field, 40% from behind the arc, and 80% from the foul line. Doing that, allows you to supplement your offense, despite not shooting the lights out from behind the arc.


The Highlanders entered the game, with two guys averaging double-figures scoring, and tonight, Carolina’s defense kept them both in check. Barrington Hargress, who leads UC in scoring, scored just 10 points, on 4-13 shooting. Isaiah Moses is the other Highlander averaging double-figures, and tonight that average dropped, as he was held scoreless, on 0-4 shooting. With all the attention on the changes on the offensive end, Carolina’s defense has been stellar to start the season and has been just as fun to watch, as the offense so far.


This game completes the three-game homestand to open the 2023-24 season, before the schedule heats up, starting with the Battle 4 Atlantis next week. And like the first two wins of the season, tonight gave us another glimpse into the type of team Carolina can be this winter.


  1. Defense: There haven’t been many games that the first takeaway has been Carolina’s defense, but when you give up 52 points, that’s what happens. The Highlanders shot 31% from the field, and just 30% from behind the arc, on 30 attempts. Seth Trimble and Jae’Lyn Withers continue to impact the game on that end of the floor, with their length, and physicality. Even with the game out of hand, Hubert Davis opted to full-court press Riverside, making it known, that his team can dominate on that end of the floor.

  2. Little Things: Like Carolina has done so in the first two games, Carolina has overcome a poor outside shooting performance, by scoring the basketball in other ways. UNC scored 34 points in the paint, scored 16 second-chance points, and was 15-21 from the foul line. When you fill the stat sheet like that, it can help overcome, a 6-21 night from behind the three-point line.

  3. Perimeter Shooting: If Carolina is going to win the Battle 4 Atlantis, they are going to need to shoot it better from the perimeter. R.J. Davis was just 1-7, and the only other starters to make a three were Harrison Ingram, and, you guessed it, Armando Bacot. Cormac Ryan and Paxon Wojcik were a combined 0-5, and that needs to change starting next week. The reason you should be encouraged is that Carolina is taking quality shots from the perimeter, and given the talent, you expect the shots to start falling sooner rather than later.

  4. Rebounding: UC Riverside actually out-rebounded Carolina, 38-37, including grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. Radford was also able to hang with Carolina on the glass, but given the way the game was played, the ball just bounced more favorably into the Highlander’s hands. On a night where Armando Bacot failed to reach double-digits in the rebounding department, Harrison Ingram stepped up, grabbing 9 boards.

Up Next: Carolina is off to the Bahamas, and the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, will feature Northern Iowa, That game is set to tip next Wednesday, at 12 PM, on ESPN.


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