Kennedy Meeks had 18 points and Joel James tied a career high with 11 points to fuel the Tar Heels to a dominant but sloppy 79-56 win over UNC Greensboro.
Since this game unfolded as a sure fire Tar Heel victory fairly quickly, I will eschew the normal game story to offer a few observations on what went right and wrong.
What went right
-Kennedy Meeks continues to come into his own as an offensive threat. Granted this level of competition is going to struggle to keep up but Meeks illustrated an ability to score in the post, using a face up game and on the fast break. Meeks had a very efficiency evening going 8-9 from the floor and 2-2 at the line while collecting six rebounds. His only miss was a point blank layup which he cleaned up on the offensive glass.
-Joel James played perhaps the best game of his UNC career hitting shots on some fairly impressive post moves and scoring 11 points which ties his career high. James shot 5-7 and collected four rebounds in just 16 minutes of play.
-UNC dominated the boards in impressive fashion controlling the glass on both ends with an ORB% of 55.6 and a DRB% of 75.6. Again, the caliber of opponent helped those numbers. UNC ended the game with a 51-26 rebounding edge, 20-10 on the offensive glass and a 16-6 edge on second chance points.
-Overall UNC had a solid offensive game with an offensive efficiency of 117.6 and shooting 49.2% from the floor. The free throw shooting was a tad below the season average of 70.5%.
What went wrong
-Marcus Paige struggled to shoot the ball going 1-8 on FGs and 1-6 from three. Three of Paige's shots looked to be on line but hit back rim. One positive for Paige was leading the team with seven rebounds.
-The turnover rate was 25.3% marking a second straight game of UNC turning the ball over at that rate or higher. Against Kentucky that sort of thing wasn't that surprising given the Wildcats are 9th nationally in defensive turnover rate. Against UNC Greensboro it is just plain carelessness. J.P. Tokoto had six turnovers giving him 12 in two games with many of the miscues coming on attempted passes into the post.
-UNCG attempted 26 free throws to UNC's 23 as UNC was whistled for 22 fouls vs 20 for UNCG. Three Tar Heels ended the game with four fouls including Jackson Simmons who played just six minutes.
Clearly there are concerns, especially with Paige's shot. There was a hope that Paige would build off the 4-6 shooting versus Kentucky to get into a shooting groove. It didn't happen versus UNCG which keeps the "when will Paige get on track" question alive for another few days.
The turnovers and the fouls are fixable issues that will certainly be emphasized in the coming few days of practice which Roy Williams promised in the postgame press conference would be long and challenging. The semester break affords the staff an opportunity to have the players focus on just basketball. With Ohio State looming in what is a key resume game, a few hard practices the players can lock in with couldn't come at a better time.