It was the final time in the Smith Center for the Tar Heels, and for 6 seniors, and they got sent out the right way in a 93-83 win over Wake Forest. It was the third straight win for the Tar Heels, who are playing their best basketball in March. Cole Anthony was absolutely sensational, scoring a game high 28 points on 8-14 shooting. He connected on 4-5 from behind the arc, as he’s recently displayed the ability to shoot the three, a weakness earlier this season in his game. Garrison Brooks added an additional 25 points, on 9-12 shooting. It was basically another day at the office for Brooks, who became the first Tar Heel since Tyler Hansbrough to score 25 points or more in three consecutive games. Brandon Robinson is the most notable Tar Heel amongst the seniors, and the resident from Douglasville, Georgia scored 18 points in his final game in the Smith Center. He connected on 5 made triples that gave Carolina a lift, outside of Anthony’s and Brooks’ production. In a season that won’t be remembered by most, Robinson proved to be a player worthy of not only playing for Carolina, but starting for Carolina.
Wake Forest played the way I think we expected them to play. They appeared to be a team that was confident after having 2 upset wins at home last week, and having already beaten the Tar Heels earlier in the season. Brandon Childress continued his excellent play as of late, scoring a team best 24 points, and handed out 9 helpers. Olivier Sarr recorded a double double, the junior big man hasn’t received the recognition his play deserves, but will be a force to reckon with next season.
It was the first time that Carolina scored 90 or more in back to back games for the first time this season. They also shot over 50% over the field, and even better 58% from bonus land. Roy Williams often says that everything looks better when the ball is going in the basket, and he’s right about that. That’s why he can live with his team being out rebounded in this game, because they didn’t miss enough shots to get to the offensive glass. In addition to the great display of shooting, Carolina also did some other things well, that allowed for a third straight win for a team full of confidence:
1. Second Half Offense: After scoring 35 points in the first half, Carolina exploded for a season best 58 in the second half. In the Syracuse game, it was vintage Carolina offense for a full 40 minutes. In this game, Carolina did it all in 20 minutes, something we never thought we’d see from this particular group. Cole Anthony absolutely shined, as he’s finally settled in at point guard for Roy Williams. Brandon Robinson made timely threes, and Garrison Brooks got easy points in the painted area. When Carolina is most dangerous on offense, it’s when they have at least 3 guys capable of going off for big games. The Tar Heels have that in Anthony, Brooks and Robinson for sure, you add in Christian Keeling and you can see why this team will be a tough out in the ACC tournament.
2. Converted on FT: Wake Forest didn’t commit too many fouls, but the ones they did commit, Carolina made them pay for it. Led by Garrison Brooks, the team converted on 21-28 freebies, which comes out to 75%. The 21 points at the free throw line, means that Carolina scored 22% of their points, with the clock stopped. With everything coming together for this team right now, it helps that they are making their foul shots at a better rate, as it makes them tougher to beat moving forward.
3. Limited the Turnovers: The 18 assist to 7 turnover ratio, is one of the better ratios we’ve seen this season. Maybe it’s the added confidence as to why we’ve seen the team limit the mistakes we saw them make so often for most of the season. It’s so hard to win, when you’re constantly giving the team easy buckets off your turnovers. What we’ve seen is that when this team doesn’t turn it over a lot, and they make shots they are a team that can play and beat anybody. It also helps that now everyone knows their role, and they aren’t trying to do it all by themselves.
Up Next: It’s the all important rematch with Duke. Everyone knows how the first game in Chapel Hill ended, there’s no reason to think Carolina can’t win this game. College GameDay won’t be on site, but ESPN still slated college basketball’s best rivalry for it’s prime 6 pm time slot.