UNC vs. UNCA: Beyond the Box

To quote Doc from last night, "Well, it was a win at least." Despite the fact that UNC come out slow and finished slower, the Heels were able to use a 16-minute stretch of solid offensive play that bracketed the half, along with some key stops down the stretch, to secure the win. As is to be expected from a game that was so uneven, the boxscore won't do justice to how the actual game flowed (or did not flow), so while the game will be viewed as a whole I will try an point out stretches that may have skewed the data in one direction or the other.

Four Factors

Without question, the biggest factor in keeping the game against UNC-A close was turnovers.  UNC turned the ball over 26.7% of the time.  While this is an improvement from the Vanderbilt game, it still represents a level of sloppiness that makes it difficult for a team to win consistently.  Turnovers were especially problematic early in the game, as UNC ended 7 of their first 17 possessions (42%) with a turnover.  What was most frustrating about the first half turnovers was the fact that Asheville was completely ineffective against UNC's half-court defense: 18 of UNC-A's 31 first half points (58%) were scored in transition.

Despite the inability to hold onto the ball, and a less than stellar shooting night (eFG%: 49.1), the Tar Heels were able to hold on for the win thanks in large part to the work they did on the glass and at the line.  Some will argue that UNC should have been even more dominant on the boards, but whenever a team is able to produce offensive and defensive rebounding percentages greater than 40.0 and 70.0, respectively, then they are doing some serious work on the glass.  With respect to the "4th Factor," UNC not only did an excellent job of not only getting to the line (FTR: 53.4%), but they also did well in converting while they were there (FT%: 74.2).

Statistical Highlights

  • The Tar Heels did do a better job of holding on to the ball in the second half (TO%: 18.9), but they only forced 2 UNC-A turnovers and for the game they had a terrible steal % of 6.7.
  • UNC had two separate 4-minute stretches (one in each half) in which they went a combined 1-9 from the floor (3 points) and had 7 turnovers.
  • In the remaining 32 minutes, the team shot 53.1 % from the field and had a reasonable 13 turnovers.
  • In the last two games in Puerto Rico, John Henson took 23.1% of all of UNC's free throws.  Last night, he took 12.9% of UNC's free throws, in large part because his teammates did a much better job of getting to the line themselves.
  • Justin Knox provided UNC with very efficient minutes off the bench, posting and OR% of 24.5 and a DR% of 18.5, to go along with and team best TO% of 14.2.
  • Due to a lack of official substitution data, I was unable to track player +/- or Roland Ratings.  I will update this should the data become available at a later date.

Beyond the Box Player of the Game

Before naming the POG for the Asheville game, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10%):

[table id=51 /]

In the last edition of BTB, I mentioned that it appeared that Tyler Zeller was making a case to be the team's focal point on offense, and he did nothing in this game to dissuade me from this idea.  Zeller showed off a complete offensive repertoire last night, hitting his first 7 shots while showing range to about 18 feet.  These type of skills, when combined with his ability to hit free throws and run the floor like no other big in college, should make Zeller a consistent source of scoring for the Heels for the rest of this season.  The team will still need to develop at least one, and preferably two, more to truly start winning, but as of right now, they at least have one more than they did last season.  Most importantly, when the Heels most needed points in the second half, there was no question who they were looking to, and he delivered.  So for the second straight game, the BTB:POG goes to Tyler Zeller.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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