North Carolina finished off their non-conference season with a 28-point win over Monmouth. With the meat grinder that is ACC play about to start, what did the Tar Heels’ final non-league game teach us?
Justin Jackson continues to put up big numbers
Joel Berry is definitely the most important player on this UNC team. However, Justin Jackson has really established himself as the go-to scorer. Jackson scored 28 points against Monmouth, notching his fourth 25+ point game of the season. He went 6-9 from three, taking his season percentage over 40%.
He still has had games this season where he’s struggled (Tennessee), but those are far rarer than they have been in past seasons. He might not be getting national attention right now, but if he continues performing like this, he’ll get some.
Even when he’s not scoring, Joel Berry is hugely important
Individually, Joel Berry did not have a spectacular game. He scored just six points, all from the free throw line after he went 0-4 from the field. Even with that, he still clearly had an impact on the way North Carolina played.
It’s not just that Joel Berry is a really good player. It’s that in the games he missed, the other point guards all have to move up a peg. Nate Britt is a good defender and a solid passer. When Berry was out, he was moved into the starting point guard slot and seemingly felt the need to play a bigger offensive role, which doesn’t suit what he’s best at. Since he’s returned, Britt has settled a little more back into the backup role, and UNC has looked way better. With Berry in the lineup, everyone has clear and established roles.
Even in a 28-point win, there are still some things to iron out
Despite Monmouth making a run at the end of the first half and going into halftime down just nine, UNC never looked like losing this game. They quickly pulled away at the start of this second half and cruised to a 28-point win over a pretty good Monmouth team. And yet, there were still some areas where the Tar Heels could have played better.
North Carolina turned the ball over 17 times. Even when not nitpicking, there are still some things about UNC’s performance that could be improved upon. And they still won by 28 over a possible NCAA Tournament team in a game where their star point guard went 0-4 from the floor. The fact that they weren’t perfect and still beat Monmouth like that is a pretty good sign.