Carolina started the game on a 10-0 run and never looked back, eventually beating Davidson by 33, 98-65. The first half of the game was marked by strong defense and offense as the Heels got their outside shots to fall and played stifling defense en route to a 23 point half time lead with the score at 47-24. The Heels were led by Nate Britt and Brice Johnson in the first half. Britt had 13 points on 5-6 shooting and was 2-3 from three. Johnson had 11 points and 5 rebounds. The Heels defense was the most impressive part of the first half performance, Carolina played suffocating man to man defense and generated 13 fast break points in the first period.
The second half was much of the same for the Heels. Carolina kept up their hot shooting and defensive play. The Heels' ball movement was what impressed the most on offense. Carolina routinely passed the ball around the key searching for the best shot they could get. More often than not the Heels found an open three pointer, driving lane of quality interior look. On the flip side, the Heels' defense was just as impressive. Davidson came in as an undefeated hot shooting team and Carolina turned up their defensive intensity so much that their starters barely played in the second half.
What We Learned:
The Heels Can Shoot It:
Carolina shot 8-23 from three in this game and this year's team seems to be one of the best jump shooting teams Carolina has ever had. In Paige, Britt, Joel Berry and Justin Jackson the Heels have four quality outside shooters and they can play three of them at a time. Theo Pinson has also shown that he can shoot the ball on occasion, and if he develops more this season, then Carolina will be in a position where they can play three shooters at all times.
Marcus Paige is Back:
The Maryland game was no fluke. Marcus Paige came right back out of the gate explosive and deadly from three. Paige finished with 13 points including shooting 2-5 from three. In his first two games Paige has clearly impressed and has dignified the pre-season All-American hype. Through the first few games the offense was inconsistent and stagnant but Paige's return has been the final piece of the puzzle. Paige has been explosive and not shied away from contact since he came back, a key component of performance considering his injury history. Carolina has looked like the best team in the country with Paige's return and they could very well win a title with the way this team is playing.
The Heels Have Found a Rotation:
Carolina has a defined rotation with Berry, Paige, Jackson, Johnson and Meeks starting and then a five man bench group of Britt, Kenny Williams, Theo Pinson, Isaiah Hicks and Joel James. The Heels do not have to play all of their bench players in every game but the rotation appears to now be clearly defined. The Heels seem to have figured out everyone's role and they are quickly becoming comfortable together on the court. This chemistry will be important in ACC and postseason play and it is encouraging to see the Heels develop it so early.
Nate Britt Is For Real:
Britt played his most impressive game since the Syracuse affair last year. Britt led the Heels with 17 points, matching his career high. Britt shot the ball extremely well, going 6-8 from the field and 2-3 from three. Britt has kept up his hot start and it now appears that his performance is no fluke, but rather that he can shoot at a high level for a sustained stretch. So long as Britt keeps it up, the Heels' bench should be able to produce good offense for them throughout the season, a key to a potential championship run.
The Heels' Length Can Suffocate Teams:
Carolina's length clearly bothered the Wildcats in every aspect of the game. The Heels out-rebounded Davidson 52-31 and gave up only 7 offensive boards. The Heels had a great game defensively due to their length, they picked up seven steals and converted solid defense into 26 fast break points. When the Heels play an undersized opponent they showed in this game that they can overwhelm them on defense and offense. This should help Carolina in games against teams that play small such as Notre Dame.
Justin Jackson: 15 PTS 7-13 FG 1-5 3PT 3 AST 5 TO 1 STL
Brice Johnson: 13 PTS 5-9 FG 3-3 FT 9 REB 2 AST 3 TO 1 STL
Kennedy Meeks: 9 PTS 3-3 FG 3-4 FT 10 REB 1 AST 2 TO 1 BLK
Marcus Paige: 13 PTS 5-12 FG 2-5 3PT 2 REB 4 AST 1 TO
Joel Berry: 11 PTS 4-10 FG 3-6 3PT 1 REB 4 AST 1 TO 2 STL
Nate Britt: 17 PTS 6-8 FG 2-3 3PT 1 REB 1 AST 1 STL