Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Inside a sold out Trask Coliseum, Carolina earned it's first road win on the young 2019 season, 78-62 over UNC-W. The Tar Heels were powered by double double efforts from Cole Anthony, Garrison Brooks and Justin Pierce. Anthony followed up his record setting debut, with a solid performance in his first time on the road. Anthony scored 20 points on 7-24 shooting, while bringing down 10 rebounds, and handing out 3 assists. Garrison Brooks added 18 points, on 5-9 shooting, and grabbed 12 rebounds. Garrison's offense was aided by the absence of Armando Bacot, who left the game with a injury. Carolina got a huge lift from Justin Pierce who rebounded nicely after struggling at times Wednesday night against the Fighting Irish. Pierce scored 18 points, while connecting on 4 triples. More importantly than his scoring, Pierce hauled in 12 rebounds, as it appears he's bought in to Roy Williams rebounding demands. Carolina wasn't sharp offensively tonight, shooting only 38% from the field. They did bring down 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second chance. After missing 7 free throws in the opener, they left 14 points at the charity stripe tonight, as this figures to be a uneasy feeling whenever we go the foul line.
UNC-Wilmington was clearly over matched tonight, and it showed after the initial start of the game. After the visitors settled into the game, UNC-W struggled to find it's rhythm on the offensive end, mustering a 35% shooting percentage. The Seahawks only connected on 5-28 from behind the three point line, which is usually a recipe for success when trying to upset a superior opponent. Jaylen Sims led the team in scoring with 12, as he figures to be a fine player in the CAA.
Usually these type of games, you can't take away a whole lot, but when you lost as much as this team did, Roy Williams learned a significant amount about his team. Here's tonight's takeaways:
1. Free Throws Need Work: Initially after Wednesday's game, I was under the belief that maybe they were just nervous at the foul line. Tonight showed it's more than just nerves, as Carolina was only 16-30 on the freebies. That's not going to cut it moving forward, as the Tar Heels aren't good enough to leave that many points at the foul line. They have a week off until they host Gardner Webb, expect that to be a focus at practice the coming days.
2. Bacot's Injury: Armando left the game in the first half and didn't return to the game. For a team that's already shallow on the interior, can't afford another long term injury. The good news is that Justin Pierce was ready tonight to step up, but that means that the Tar Heels are smaller, which is something that are trying to get away from.
3. Lack of Fast Break Points: They only had 12 on the opener, and only got 11 tonight. This is a program that thrives on scoring easy buckets in transition. Now this has a lot to do with the unfamiliarity with the lineups at the floor at times, but Carolina needs to get it going in the open floor. There's also an adjustment period for the newcomers, who just don't know how much their head coach wants them to run. Like the aforementioned free throws, you should see the guys more aggressive and successful the next time on the floor.
Up Next: Carolina is off for the next week, as they'll return home to play Gardner Webb next Friday in the Smith Center. The game will tip off at 9 pm.
(Photo courtesy of Robert Willett & newsobserver.com)