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For the first time in December, Carolina found a way to win a game as they get past UCLA 74-64 in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas. Had the Heels suffered a 5th consecutive loss it would've been the first time that happened in 69 years. Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris powered the offense off the bench, combining for 26 points, as the two freshman guards are progressing after every game. They excelled at putting the ball on the floor and making plays for themselves, and their teammates. Armando Bacot recorded another double, Garrison Brooks was his usual self, and Brandon Robinson knocked in a trio of three pointers. Today the looked the team we thought they could be at times. After Gonzaga, even after the loss you still took away some positives as this team tries to find out who they are. The question was could they build off it? They answered that with a win over a struggling team, but nonetheless a quality opponent.
A win today pays dividends for the immediate future. Carolina's next 4 games are all in Chapel Hill against teams you feel like you should beat despite the injuries. A win before the Christmas holiday gives this team confidence which it desperately needs. Although they got the win, they left a lot on the court that needs to be fixed sooner or later. 3 things from the win today:
1. Francis & Harris Shine: These two youngsters are enjoying success on the court, after working themselves back from injury. They both displayed today, what they are capable of when on the floor together or individually. Harris provided some outside shooting which this team is asking for, while also causing havoc on the defensive end. Francis continues to put pressure on the defense with his constant aggressiveness in both the half-court and transition. You have to like what you've seen from them so far, and both have bright futures.
2. Points off Turnovers: For a team that is struggling to put the ball in the basket, a easy way to get easy buckets it score off turnovers. Carolina forced 22 UCLA miscues, and turned that in to 22 points. While you'd like to see that number a little higher considering the amount f turnovers, put this is a starting point. If this trend can continue, everyone will feel better about this offense.
3. Bacot Showed Up: The freshman big man has certainly struggled these last few games, but today he responded to criticism around him. Armando totaled 15 points & 12 rebounds, giving Brooks the help he needs on the interior. This team is build to play through the bigs, and when they can, it makes life easier for Roy Williams. While he needs to be more consistent from the charity stripe, the talent is there for him to be a force to be reckon with as conference play looms.
Up Next: With Christmas week, Carolina off until December 30th, when they'll host Yale at 7 pm in the Smith Center,