Joel Berry II picked up his play a little after a terrible performance in the previous game, while Justin Jackson had an average game. Kenny Williams still only hit one three, and nobody off the bench had a great game—other than Tony Bradley, of course (14 points and eight rebounds). So how did UNC come away with a 104-61 win in Maui over Chaminade? Kennedy Meeks woke up and had his best game of the season, rebounding like he has been but also chipping in a lot of points on efficient, high-percentage shots.
Meeks was spectacular in the first half, gobbling up offensive rebounds and feasting on putbacks. He finished the half with 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting and five rebounds, four of which came on the offensive end. As the Heels struggled with turnovers and outside shooting, Meeks made sure to capitalize on his rebounding, something he hasn’t always done during his time in Chapel Hill, consistently missing easy layups underneath the rim. This time around, he was the real difference-maker in that half, and UNC surely would’ve been in trouble without his steady contribution.
In the second half, it was more of the same for Meeks, who also showed an ability to get to the foul line (six of eight from the stripe). The rest of the team picked up its play in the second half, and UNC began to pull away to a blowout 104-61 win, setting up a showdown with the high-scoring Oklahoma State Cowboys this evening. Meeks’ final numbers were fantastic, as he didn’t miss a shot on his way to a 20-point, 7-of-7 shooting performance with 10 rebounds. Meeks has now had three double-doubles in the first five games of the season.
Meeks had been somewhat of the forgotten man amidst all the hype around Berry, Jackson and Isaiah Hicks, but he showed just how crucial he is for this team. When the team was struggling in the first 20 minutes, he did the dirty work on the glass and found himself some easy points. For whatever reason, it’s been difficult to remember what a polished veteran he is now, and he looked every bit the experienced big man that he is against Chaminade.
An honorable mention also has to be given to Hicks, who was there every step of the way with Meeks. He finished with 22 points of his own on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with six rebounds. One of the biggest question marks of the season was how these two would pair together in the paint, Meeks more comfortable with a shooting big like Brice Johnson and Hicks not accustomed to starting and getting big minutes. This was the best performance of the season for both, and with more showings like these, UNC might have a front court just as formidable as last season.