After losing in an epic to Kentucky, North Carolina had a chance to bounce back against a solid Northern Iowa team at home. They did in a big way, winning by over 40. Unsurprisingly, a 40-point win was filled with some positive signs for the Tar Heels.
Good Kennedy Meeks is still a thing to be reckoned with
After the Davidson and Tennessee games, Kennedy Meeks (and Isaiah Hicks) both came in for some criticism, and it was hard to argue with it. Meeks struggled in both of those games. In the Kentucky game, he was better but was limited due to foul trouble. Against Northern Iowa, he showed that when he’s good, he’s very good.
Meeks finished as UNC’s leading scorer against the Panthers with 18 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds, four on the offensive end. He also did a great job getting to the line, going 6-9 in total.
It was somewhat fair to be disenchanted at his play at points this season. However, he’s still a good player and will be important if this team is to go deep in March.
Kenny Williams can be effective on offense without scoring
Kenny Williams scored just two points against Northern Iowa, and they came on late in the game with UNC already up by over 20. However, he still proved effective on both ends of the floor.
He finished as UNC’s best performer in +/- with +25. That came partly from his usual good defense, but also because of his five assists. His best play came early in the second half. He grabbed an offensive rebound and found an open Joel Berry for a three-pointer and one of Williams’ five assists. That three put UNC up 12 as the Tar Heels started to open up a sizeable lead.
When it’s good, UNC’s defense can be scary good
In the first half of this game, Carolina’s offense struggled to shoot. Yet they still went into halftime with a seven-point lead. Northern Iowa shot 42.9% in the first half, most of their scoring coming from five three-pointers. The North Carolina defense held UNI to just 26 points in the first half, which is a decent effort against any team.
And then in the second half, the defense played even better. The Tar Heels held Northern Iowa to just 16 points after halftime, with the Panthers shooting just 7-27. Northern Iowa scored just 0.471 points per possession in the second half. Most of UNI’s points in the second came after the Tar Heels had already opened up a big lead. Needless to say, the Tar Heels’ defense is pretty good.