879. That's the number of wins Dean Smith had when he retired back in the 90's. At the time of his retirement Smith had the most wins in college basketball history. Now his protege Roy Williams has won 879 games, tying his mentor. Carolina prevailed against Yale 70-67, allowing Williams to tie his mentor in the building that bears both of their names. Brandon Robinson had a career game scoring 20 points, while connecting on 5 triples. Garrison Brooks added a double double, along with Jeremiah Francis and his 10 points gave Carolina 3 starters in double figures. In addition to those 3 starters in double figures, Justin Pierce scored 14 off the bench, as he had his best game since November. It wasn't a pretty offensive performance for the Tar Heels, but they found enough offense to get a win against a pesky Yale squad. For the game Carolina shot 37% from the field, but shot 40% in the second half where they got some separation. The difference in the game? Carolina out-rebounded the Bulldogs 48-34, including 15-1 on the offensive glass. The Tar Heels took advantage of the size advantage they held over the Ivy League, to get second chance points to fuel an offense that's still working through the kinks.
The win over Yale gives Carolina 8-5 record, as they prepare for 18 straight ACC games. They can continue to build off the little things they are doing well, as they continue to piece the rotation together. That rotation though will be adjusted as Anthony Harris hurt his knee on a baseline drive late in the second half. Here are 3 takeaways from the gritty home win to close out 2019:
1. B-Rob's Offense Comes at Much Needed Time: The senior from Georgia picked the right time for his offense to lift his team to a win. Prior to tonight Robinson had never hit more than 3 triples, or score more than 17 points. Tonight he connected on 5 long balls, and a scored career best 20 points as he was the main source of offense in the second half. He followed up his 12 point outing against UCLA, as it appears he's rounding into form. His offense needs to be more consistent as ACC play heats up this weekend.
2. Rebounding: Carolina controlled the glass, which helped them control the game throughout. The Bulldogs were no match for the bigger and longer Tar Heels, who used their size to take advantage of the smaller opponent. Garrison Brooks grabbed 11, Leaky Black hauled in 9, and Justin Pierce added 7 off the bench to give Carolina balanced rebounding throughout its lineup.
3. Can Pierce Build Off This Game?: We've been waiting on Pierce to play like the player that was hard to stop to CAA. We've seen glimpses off that kind of player, but he hasn't sustained it. With ACC play starting again this weekend, Carolina needs him to give more consistent production moving forward. It helps that he has started seeing the ball go in the basket, and has some gained some confidence on the defensive end. If Pierce can become a contributor it'll give this team another weapon on offense.
Up Next: Carolina remains in Chapel Hill as they'll host Georgia Tech on Saturday. The ACC contest will tip at 6 with ACC Network covering the game. This will be the first time Roy Williams can pass Dean Smith on the all time wins list.
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