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#6 Carolina 97 Chattanooga 57

NCAA Basketball: Chattanooga at North Carolina Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

The #6 Tar Heels improved to 2-0 on the season with a 40 point win over Chattanooga on Sunday. The Heels were led by Joel Berry, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Berry led the team with 18 points, Meeks recorded a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Hicks had 13 points as the team’s third leading scorer. The first half was a tight one until Carolina pulled away in the closing minutes. The Heels went on a 30-8 run spanning both halves to put the game beyond reach for the Mocs. Ultimately, six Carolina players recorded double digit scoring outings as the Heels won by 40.

First Half:

The Heels and the Mocs played a very even first fifteen minutes, the back and forth affair saw each team take leads with neither side have more than a 4 point advantage. However, Carolina took charge of the game in the final minutes of the half. The Heels began to get their transition game working in the half’s final few minutes, ending the period with 11 of their 44 points coming in transition Carolina leaned heavily on Joel Berry and Isaiah Hicks. Berry had 10 points, 3 boards and 3 assists and Hicks had 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block to lead the Heels.

Outside of Hicks and Berry, Carolina got contributions from both veterans and freshmen alike. Kenny Williams in particular stood out in the first half. Williams recorded a relatively lackluster stat line with only 5 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists but the team was +9 with him on the floor. Kennedy Meeks also put in an admirable first half shift for the Tar Heels. Meeks led the team with 7 rebounds and 2 blocks while also chipping in 6 points. Tony Bradley was the Heels’ most impressive freshman of the first half. Bradley had 7 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist.

At the same time, Justin Jackson and Nate Britt struggled in the first half. Jackson seemed to be the Heels’ focal point on offense early but he missed his first three shots in the opening two minutes and only took one more shot for the rest of the half (which he also missed). Nate Britt was the other starter who failed to score in the first half. Britt had two assists, balanced out with two turnovers and looked out of place throughout his 13 minutes of floor time.

Where the Heels really improved over the course of the half was on defense. Carolina failed to close out on shooters for the first 15 minutes of the half and the Mocs went 5-9 from three to start the half. However, Carolina turned up their intensity on defense as the half went on. The Heels recorded three blocks in the first half and turned Chattanooga over 10 times. The Heels did struggle to clean the glass on defense, giving up 8 offensive rebounds in the first half but they did improve as the half went on.

Second Half:

The Heels picked up right where they left off in the first half to start the second half. The team came out of the locker room sharp and grew their lead to 20 points in less than 4:30 minutes, and the second half quickly became a much more relaxed affair than the first. Carolina kept their foot on the gas and ended up winning the game by 40. The Heels’ second half dominance stemmed from increased effort on defense and the fact that their jumpers started to fall. The team got a lot of the same looks that they saw in the first half, but in final 20 minutes they got a lot more of them to fall.

Key Statistics:

Joel Berry: 18 PTS 5-8 FG 2-4 3PT 4 REB 5 AST

Isaiah Hicks: 13 PTS 5-10 FG 5 REB 2 AST 1 BLK

Kennedy Meeks: 14 PTS 6-12 FG 12 REB 3 BLK

Justin Jackson: 10 PTS 4-13 FG 2-5 3PT 2 REB 5 AST

Nate Britt: 3 PTS 1-1 FG 1-1 3PT 2 REB 3 AST

Kenny Williams: 11 PTS 4-7 FG 1-2 3PT 6 REB 5 AST

Tony Bradley: 12 PTS 4-7 FG 8 REB 1 AST

Brandon Robinson: 5 PTS 2-6 FG 0-2 3PT 3 REB 1 AST