After having over a week off to celebrate the Christmas Holiday, Carolina returns to the hardwood as they';; host Yale tonight. The last time we saw the Tar Heels they got their first win of December, a 74-64 decision over UCLA. The struggling Tar Heels were lifted by young guards Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris who combined for 26 points off the bench to spark a offense stuck in mud. The win over the Bruins was important because it kept Carolina above .500 entering the holiday break, and with the next 4 games at home gives you a chance to string some victories together. Tonight they'll get a chance to build on the last outing.
Yale is coming in tonight with the expectations to compete for 40 minutes. The Bulldogs own a respectable 10-3 record, and have won on the road at Clemson. Yale only puts 3 players in double figures, but those three guy can fill up the bucket as good as anyone in the mid major department. Paul Atkinson leads them at 17.2 points per game, and shoots a efficient 65% from the floor. Jordan Bruner is their main guy on the glass bringing down 9.2 rebounds a game. Like most well coached mid major teams, the Bulldogs aren't going to beat themselves with careless turnovers, and will capitalize on open looks from behind the three point line.
Carolina has already fell victim at home to a team they should beat, when Wofford upset the Tar Heels in Carmichael, so you can imagine they'll be ready to go for this game. Once again Cole Anthony won't be available for this matchup, but with the emergence of both Jeremiah Francis & Anthony Harris, the offense has found a identity without the star guard. Regardless Carolina will have to play well if they want to win back to back games for the first time since before the team went to the Bahamas over Thanksgiving. 3 keys to winning the non-conference finale:
1. Continued Progression for Francis & Harris: Their combined play can't be understated, as they've lifted this team in more ways than one. Francis has given this team a play maker off the bounce, as his ability to drive the basket and flatten the defense has opened up opportunities for the post players around the basket. As for Harris his shot making ability on the perimeter has opened up driving lanes in the defense. Whether or not they start or not isn't as important, as their production on the court is. If these guys continue to play better it'll only give this team more confidence as we head into ACC play.
2. Get Into Their Bench: Yale isn't a very deep team, as only 8 players have appeared in all games, and you can expect Yale doesn't have to compete with most Power 5 teams. Carolina is of course beat up themselves, as Anthony is out, and Sterling Manley is done for the season. Despite the lack of depth on the interior, the offense should run through both Garrison Brooks & Armando Bacot with the goal of getting the Bulldogs' in foul issues. With Jeremiah Francis running the offense you feel confident the post players will b featured more often.
3. Turnovers: Most years Roy Williams doesn't mind if his team turns it over, because they play a high possession game. That hasn't been the case this season, as Cole Anthony isn't as willing a pusher of the basketball. Jeremiah Francis has injected life into the transition game, but Carolina still isn't running like we're accustomed to seeing. With that in mind, this team can't afford to turn it over at a high rate, and they need to start forcing more miscues for the opponent, to get easy buckets in transition. Yale isn't going to beat themselves, so the Tar Heels will need to be aggressive on the perimeter without fouling to force turnovers.
Series History: Carolina owns a 6-1 mark against the Bulldogs, having won the last 6 games between the two schools. This is the first time they've played since 1980, a 85-74 for the Tar Heels. Roy Williams is undefeated against Ivy League schools in his time in Chapel Hill.
UNC - 46th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.5 ( 67th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 90.6 ( 35th )
Yale - 71st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 102.3 ( 124th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.5 ( 42nd )
TV Info: Tonight's game will start at 7 with ACC Network covering the non-conference contest.
Roy's Boys Podcast: