Fast Hitters – North Carolina in Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters of North Carolina’s 75-65 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.

Highlights:

Shortened game:

  • After starting the ACC game with seven straight games decided by seven or fewer points, it was nice to get some breathing space in the last two games. win double digits each.
  • The game was essentially over after Carolina ran an extended 15-4 run midway through the second half. To Pitt’s credit, however, they fought back and extended the lead to five before Carolina made the necessary games on the track to secure a street win against a tough ACC opponent. This run included this Leaky Black Steal and Run-Out:
  • Last season Carolina finished the ACC game 6-14 and took her sixth win on March 3rd. Today’s win, January 26th, marked the ACC’s sixth win, matching last season’s overall ACC win with 11 conference games remaining.
  • Statistically, the stars of the night were Armando Bacot and Garrison Brooks. Bacot scored his fourth double of the season and the first of the “20-and-10” variety with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Brooks added 16 points and six rebounds in a beautiful bounce-back game after facing nasty problems last time against NC State. The combined 37 points are barely half of the 75 points on the tar heels tonight.
  • Bacot burns. And it’s an efficient fire. He’s set up essentially the same number of shots in the last three games: 8-for-10, 8-for-12, 8-for-10. That sum is 24 to 32 or 75.0 percent. For the season, Bacot’s field goal percentage is up to 65.5 percent. This would be the third all-time in Carolina if the season ends today.
  • Bacot isn’t the only tar heel that shoots efficiently. Though Carolina’s streak of 50 percent or better ended in three halves, they shot a hefty 45.5 percent in the first half and 60.7 percent in the second. This means that UNC has made 50 percent or more of its field goal attempts in four of the last five halves. In addition, they have shot over 50 percent in the last two games.
  • Despite strong overall shots, Carolina shot poorly from “three and free”. Carolina was 4-for-17 (23.5 percent) from the three-point line and 7-for-14 (50.0 percent) from the free-throw line. Combined with the poor performance of both areas against NC State on Saturday, Carolina has shot 15 to 32 (46.9 percent) from the free-throw line and 8 to 28 (28.6 percent) from three free throws in the last two games.
  • That’s not to say that there wasn’t good news from three or the free throw line. Kerwin Walton’s second three-pointer came immediately after Pitt closed the lead to five points. Walton’s shot got the ball rolling on a 7-0 run in Carolina that lasted just 65 seconds. Caleb Love later hit his lone three-pointer with only 3:00 left in the game. For the newbie, it was a great success at a great moment. That shot once against stopped the tide after Pitt reduced the lead back to five. In good free throw news, Pitt fouled Armando Bacot 0:37 and calmly knocked down both ends of a 1-1 to give Carolina the final 75-65 record.
  • Today’s restful performance wasn’t overly dominant (+8), but it had some impressive moments. At the first media timeout, the heels already had two offensive rebounds and four points of the second chance. Twice in the second half, Carolina missed a free throw only to grab the offensive rebound and score an instant goal.
  • Another curiosity: Andrew Platek scored three offensive rebounds in just 69 seconds in the first half. Those were his only rebounds in the game.
  • Carolina gave up a season low of three steals.
  • One of the most important stats of the night (and likely long-term) was that Caleb Love had five assists and only one turnover. The templates were all in the first half. And to live up to the love, the one turnover came to an unlucky game where he made a good offensive move and turned into a defender, which gave him an offensive foul 1:40 in the game. Love was so close to having his first college game with no sales.
  • One reason Love’s numbers are improving is his rapidly evolving decision-making ability. Early in the game he missed a shot, corrected the offensive ricochet that had ricocheted off, drove back into the lane, and used a float over a defender trying to take a charge. In other sequences he drove, but used the defensive rotations caused by his penetration to find teammates. Once it was a kick-out for Kerwin Walton for his first three games. On another occasion, Love pulled Brooks’ defender over and tossed the tall man a pass for an easy two. This child matures and sees the dish better. It’s fun to see love grow before our eyes. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
  • Look folks, Justin Champagnie is the real deal. All the indications are that he’s the ACC player of the year. He finished the race with 23 points from just nine shots, got 10 rebounds and blocked two shots. As strange as it sounds, Carolina was able to limit Champagnie to just nine shots (he averaged 14 for the season).
  • Where the Tar Heel defense really shone was the shutdown of Champagnie’s runmates. Champagnie and Xavier Johnson and Au’Toney averaged 50.4 points per game this season, the most of any trios in the ACC. Champagnie held up his end of that average at 23 points, but Johnson and Toney together only scored 15 points. UNC was able to hold the trio 12 points behind their season average.
  • Saturday against NC State marked the first time in seven straight games that Carolina failed to assist on at least 62 percent of her field goals. They came back to it tonight and backed 22 of their 32 baskets with 68.6 percent. After the game, Garrison Brooks said, “We’re growing together. We had 22 templates on 32 baskets. That’s just good basketball. “
  • Carolina continues to learn to appreciate basketball. While there were sloppy moments tonight, including five turnovers in the first ten minutes, the heels only had two in the remaining half and only one in the first twelve minutes of the second half. They eventually finished with 13 turnovers, the fifth game in a row with 14 or less.
  • While ideally you want to build and maintain a huge head start, the tar heels should be commended for their ability to stifle any run Pittsburgh had in them. Coach Williams said after the game: “Every time they made a run, we answered that.”
  • Clearly, a key to recent success is learning the tar heels how to be competitive from the start. The double-digit deficits in the first half of the year at the beginning of the year are long gone. Getting off to a good start on the road is especially important and the heels did so tonight.
  • 48 of the UNC’s 75 points were in color. Roy Williams will be very happy with this number. Here are two of the 48:
  • Pitt experienced a 16:13 to 7:49 drought in the first half. That’s only eight and a half minutes without a field goal.
  • Walker Kessler only played 90 seconds but made the most of his defense. In two consecutive defenses, Kessler went out to defend on the fringes, got a theft, and then blocked a shot at the nearest Pitt possession.
  • Kerwin Walton continues to show a willingness to pump fakes and get in line for a two-point shot rather than forcing a three. Honestly, the more he does this, the more teams will have to respect his driving and / or pull-up skills, which should give him more space to operate on the perimeter.
  • Starting with Walton’s three that spurred the 15-4 run, Carolina made nine of her next ten field goal attempts.
  • All in all, this was probably the biggest win of the season so far. Carolina looks better and better every time. No reason to believe they won’t keep growing, as is the case with a team trained by Roy-Williams.

Box Score

Press conference after the game by Roy Williams

Press conference after the game of the players

Armando Bacot

Garrison Brooks

Caleb love

Make sure to check for quick hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up on Tuesday, February 2nd, is a street game against Clemson. The tip is at 7:00 p.m. ET on the ACC Network.

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