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Heel Tough Blog: UNC-Asheville Recap

As bad as we wanted to see drastic improvement from Sunday, that wasn't realistic given Carolina had just one day of practice before tonight’s game, which is why Carolina still looked sloppy in a 72-53 win. Caroline held the Bulldogs to just 26% shooting, and 19% from behind the arc, as the Tar Heels produced their best defensive effort of the season. The 72 points are tied for a season low, and Carolina only had two players in double figures scoring led by Armando Bacot’s game-high 22 points, and R.J. Davis’ 12 points. Despite the low number of points, UNC did shoot 49% from the floor, and 50% from distance. The reason for the low offensive production? A season-high 18 turnovers, an issue that will be more stressed over the next week. Carolina did dominate the backboards, out-rebounding Asheville 51-29, led by Leaky Black’s career best 11 rebounds.

After building a double digit lead to end the first half, Asheville cut it to a 45-38 deficit, before Armando Bacot and-one pushed the lead back out, and the Bulldogs never got closer. Coming out of the locker room, the Smith Center lacked energy, and so did the team, as Carolina slept walked their way through most of the second half before Armando Bacot scored on a handful of consecutive possessions. With Thanksgiving break looming, it’s understandable as to why the team may have lacked focus and intensity, but the point remains that they need to be invested to play to the best of their ability.

No matter the margin of victory, Carolina wasn’t going to learn a lot about who they are as a team tonight, but they could have played a better, more convincing brand of basketball. Here’s what to take away from tonight’s win:

  1. Turnovers: Had Carolina turned it over 18 times over the weekend, it still would have been concerning but it would have been more understandable given the competition. Turning it over 18 times against Asheville is a cause for concern. This team still struggles with basic entry passes into the post. Their decision making needs to be vastly improved, and they need to be stronger with the ball in double-team situations. The week off allows Davis to focus more on this during the next several practices as the team prepares for Michigan. Given the way Carolina shot the ball tonight, had they not turned it over as frequently, this game wouldn’t have been as close in the second half, and you would’ve felt better about the win.

  2. Armando Bacot: Mando is the best player on this team, and as he’s adjusting to being leader, he has become more comfortable demanding the basketball, as is Hubert Davis drawing up sets designed to get him the ball in his spots. In just 29 points, Bacot had 22 points on 8-14 shooting and grabbed 7 rebounds to lift the team in the second half.

  3. Rebounding: Tonight was the best Carolina has looked on the glass statistically, out-rebounding Asheville 51-29. But of the 29 rebounds for the Bulldogs, 15 were offensive, meaning they had more offensive rebounds than defensive rebounds. Asheville grabbed more offensive rebounds (15) than Carolina did (13). The thing you liked seeing from tonight’s rebounding effort was that six players grabbed at least 5 rebounds. With the lack of depth in the frontcourt, Carolina needs rebounding from all positions on the floor, and they got that tonight.

  4. Halftime Lead: Tonight was just the second time all season long that Carolina led at halftime, and ironically enough, the Tar Heels are 2-0 in such games. Carolina didn’t get off to a fast start offensively tonight, but a sharper focus defensively allowed them to run out to a 37-24 halftime advantage.

  5. Points in the Paint: After getting manhandled over the weekend inside, Carolina responded tonight with a 34-22 margin in the painted area. That was nice to see, mainly on the defensive end, where most of the points in the paint were a result of layups. Carolina was able to out-score Asheville because they played through Armando Bacot who was their best offensive player once again tonight.

Up Next: Carolina is officially off for the next 8 days, and won’t return to action until next Wednesday, December 1st. That matchup will be against Michigan in the annual ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The game is slated to tip at 9:15 on ESPN.

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