I have been duly informed that it is Nicholls now and not Nicholls State. Either that or UNC beat the State of Nicholls.
Given the way UNC shot in this game, I would have pegged this game as the first one coming off the exam break rather than the one Saturday night. The Heels did not shoot the ball well from anywhere on the court really. UNC missed 20 free throws, only shot 4-19 from three and only hit 43% from the floor. Outside of the shooting UNC did not appear to play poorly. They were a tad out of sorts starting both halves but at the same time they have some really good stretches. UNC was also very active on defense and rebounding collecting an obscene 72 boards. Some of that was fed by shooting poorly and aided by being so much bigger than Nicholls. UNC also made extensive use of pressure defense and half court traps to make life difficult for Nicholls. The defense forced 23 turnovers, 13 of them steals and blocked 11 shots. John Henson had seven rejections on his own further padding his stats. UNC used the traps so much it was almost like Roy Williams wanted to simply work on it.
In all honesty this is as an odd a box score I think I have seen for a team that scored 99 points. UNC only had four players in double figures with Dexter Strickland and James Michael McAdoo leading the way with 14 each. P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock came off the bench to score 13 and 10 respectively. Bullock also had ten rebounds for his first career double-double. After that it was a whole slew of players scoring 7-9 points. The Tar Heel starting frontline only had 23 points with none of them in double figures. It got so strange in the second half that Justin Watts scored six straight points and ended the game with nine. Three Tar Heels hit double figures in rebounds: John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Bullock. Harrison Barnes had another 4-12 night but did grab eight rebounds.
As I said, it seemed like no one outside of Dexter Strickland really shot the ball well yet the Heels won by 50 which is just odd. Some of that is how poorly Nicholls played. Some of it is UNC playing the middle game of three in five days with a huge match-up with Texas looming in two days. Plus no one, except for Marshall, played more than 21 minutes. It was essentially a glorified scrimmage and as a fan you should probably treat it as such. The game on Wednesday versus Texas will have far more value in figuring out what this team is about. That being said, I will say there was a stretch of a few minutes midway through the second half where the starters put on a clinic of defensive and transition basketball. Obviously that will not happen as much against better teams but it was fun to watch the Heels get up and down being fed off blocked shots and turnovers.
If the Wisconsin and Kentucky games proved anything, it is this team is more than capable of raising the level of its game when the competition demands it. I expect that will be the case when Texas comes calling.