Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-51 win over UNLV on Monday evening in the Maui Invitational First Round.
- After falling behind 13-0 just 3:36 into the game, the Tar Heels outscored UNLV 78-38 the rest of the way to claim an overwhelming victory. Before calling off the dogs with just under 5:00 to play, Carolina amassed a 72-39 lead (33 point spread). At that point, the Heels had outscored the Runnin’ Rebels 72-26 since the opening 13-0 run.
- Congrats to Garrison Brooks for becoming the 78th Tar Heel to score 1,000 career points. The Tar Heels have more 1,000-point scorers than any other Division I program. Brooks connected on a short jumper in the lane 12:00 into the game for career points number 999 and 1,000. He finished the game as the second-leading scorer on the team with 14, and now has 1,012 for his career (76th on the all-time Carolina scoring list).
- There was some confusion that arose on Monday night as to exactly how many points Brooks needed to hit the 1,000-point mark. He began the season with 991 career points, needing nine to achieve this lofty goal. Against College of Charleston in the opening game, Brooks scored six points, or did he? Brooks actually scored seven points against Charleston but his lone trip to the free throw line (in which he went 1-for-2) was credited to Armando Bacot in the box score. Given this update, rather than entering Monday’s game with 997 career points, he actually had 998, and therefore needed just two points to join the 1,000-point club.
- What led to the 13-0 game-opening run for UNLV? Great question. Part of the problem was that they double-teamed the post after every entry pass (regardless of which Carolina frontcourt player received the pass). In the early stages of the game, the Tar Heel bigs passed back out and whichever guard received the pass immediately triggered a three-pointer instead of swinging the ball to keep the defense scrambling in order to find a better shot. To wit, three of Carolina’s first four shots (and four of the first seven) were three-point attempts. Postgame, Coach Williams said, “They came out and tried to double our post. We threw it out and shot the ball on the first pass out and none of them went in.”
- Carolina's bigs will face a lot of this treatment throughout the season. They will need to learn to find one another from post to post or high to low when this happens. The other option is for the perimeter player who receives the kick-out pass to swing the ball around the arc, as happened on Andrew Platek’s second three-pointer of the game:
- The offensive tide began to turn when the frontcourt players started adjusting to the double-teams. They were more decisive with passes and shots. They moved more quickly and with a greater purpose. Directionally, they also began turning away from the double-teams.
- By the time the Tar Heels finally scored with 13:42 remaining before halftime, they had missed eight field goals, two free throws, and committed two turnovers.
- Also during UNLV’s run, Coach Williams utilized one of his famous wholesale substitutions (although it was just four players in this case). He brought in Andrew Platek, Kerwin Walton, Walker Kessler, and Day’Ron Sharpe to join RJ Davis. While Coach might have utilized subs to stem the tide, he did not use any of his timeouts. Postgame, he quipped, “Those guys who have been around here a long time knew that I wasn’t going to call a timeout. I told them when it was a tv timeout that I didn’t get us in the problem, they did.” He was wise (as is typically the case) to save his timeouts as Carolina outscored UNLV 37-17 the rest of the half.
- After a spectacular first college game, Day’Ron Sharpe wasn’t able to get much going tonight. This is mostly attributed to having to match up with UNLV’s smaller, more fleet-footed lineup. Curiously, he didn’t attempt a single shot, wound up with a quarter of the team’s 16 turnovers, and went 1-for-4 from the free throw line. He did still pull in six rebounds along with a blocked shot and an assist. Remember: regardless of how talented Sharpe is, he’s a freshman. There will be bumps in the road. Better days are ahead for Mr. Day'Ron Sharpe.
- Speaking of rebounds, UNLV’s lack of height matched with Carolina’s overwhelming height and length (and desire to control the boards) resulted in Carolina pulling down 54 rebounds (19 offensive). Leaky Black led the way with 10. UNLV had 35 rebounds for a +19 rebounding margin for the Heels. After a +15 margin against the College of Charleston, they are averaging +17 on the season. UNC had a balanced rebounding attack on Monday night, with all nine players who logged double-digit minutes grabbing multiple rebounds:
- UNC did a great job working their way back into the game but hit another lull after tying the game at 22. The next four possessions went: turnover, turnover, turnover, rushed shot. This mental lapse allowed UNLV to rebuild their lead to five (27-22). Thankfully, this happened against a less-talented team whom Carolina could storm back against. When playing a more-talented or more-experienced team, a break in focus like this could be the difference between winning and losing.
- From 27-22, Carolina closed the half on a 15-3 run and never looked back. The first lead of the game came with 3:24 left before halftime. Walker Kessler secured one of his four offensive rebounds and found RJ Davis for a reverse lay-up and a 29-27 lead (which they would not relinquish).
- UNLV made their first three three-point attempts. They were 5-for-34 (14.7 percent) the rest of the game. On the flip side, Carolina missed their first four three-point attempts but shot 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) the rest of the game.
- Congrats to Kerwin Walton who made his first collegiate three-pointer. Here's the shot:
- The most minutes played was RJ Davis’ 27:47. No player has crossed the 30-minute threshold this season. Leaky Black played the most minutes against College of Charleston (28.44). These numbers will certainly change as the competition improves, but the division of labor is especially welcome in a week of three straight games.
- Davis led the Heels in scoring with 16. Four total players hit double-digits (Brooks – 14, Bacot – 12, Platek – 11) and seven players scored at least five points.
- Andrew Platek has quietly put together a solid first two games of his senior campaign. Against Charleston, he scored five points, had four steals (a career high), three rebounds, two blocks, and an assist. More importantly, he was named defensive player of the game for the first time in his career. He followed that up with 11 points on Monday (on an efficient 4-for-6 FG, 2-for-4 3FG) and three more rebounds.
- Caleb Love didn’t have the scoring output against UNLV to match his collegiate debut. He did, however, find other ways to affect the game and his team's success. He had a team high in both assists (four) and blocks (three). Interestingly, all three blocks occurred in just over a two minute span of the second half.
- Armando Bacot already looks more confident around the rim. He’s missed all of one field goal attempt through two games and therefore boasts a gaudy 88.9 field goal percentage. He and RJ Davis are the only players to score in double-figures in both games.
- Speaking of efficiency, how about young Mr. Walker Kessler? He’s played a total of 18:33. In that time, he has shot 6-for-7 from the field, scored 13 points, and grabbed 10 rebounds (six of which were offensive). There’s really no other way to put it: He is really tall. A legitimate 7’1”. Perhaps most impressive to his head coach in his first two college outings was Kessler’s willingness to throw his body on the floor after a loose ball against UNLV. Said Roy Williams, “You saw him dive on the floor like that tonight. That kind of effort is only going to get him a heck of a lot more playing time.”
- Lastly, I’m in the process of developing a new statistic for basketball that I’m calling “Possessions Created and Saved” (PCS). In its current state, the formula for determining PCS is steals (S) + offensive rebounds (OReb) + possession after blocked shots (PAB) – turnovers (TO). Against College of Charleston, Carolina achieved a +24 PCS while Charleston’s rating was -2 PCS, for a +26 net PCS rating for the Tar Heels. Tonight, Carolina’s rating was +11 PCS, while UNLV’s was +9 PCS, for a net of +2 PCS. If you enjoy stats, stay tuned, as I’ll be tracking (and refining) “Possessions Created and Saved” (PCS) for the Tar Heels and their opponents all season.
Roy Williams postgame press conference
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Maui Invitational Semifinal (in Asheville, NC). The Tar Heels will play Stanford on Tuesday, December 1. Tip is at 4:00 ET on ESPN.
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