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UNC vs. Miami: Three things we learned

The Tar Heels remain in first place in the ACC, despite their loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tar Heels seven game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Saturday with a 77-62 loss to Miami.

Here are some of the things we learned from yesterday’s loss:

Winning on the road in the ACC is tough (Winning on the road in the ACC in the early afternoon on Saturday is tougher).

It has been written before, and I am sure fans are starting to get tired of the narrative. The Tar Heels, along with pretty much every other team in the ACC, have struggled on the road this year. UNC has been fortunate to come away with more wins on the road than losses (3-2 in the ACC), but as we have all seen and has been written countless other times before, the Heels have not been as sharp on the road as they have been at home. We already saw what took place throughout this week with a lot of the top ten teams in the AP Top 25 Poll (Villanova, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida State, and UCLA) losing on the road, which you can now add UNC to that list.

Also, having to turn around and play a game less than 48 hours after you last played is not easy, especially when you had to go to class and then get on a plane and travel down to Miami. In the three road ACC games that have started around noon, UNC has come out slow and sluggish.

First half points:

vs. Georgia Tech - 32

vs. Boston College - 34

vs. Miami - 22

It is a small sample size, but the casual observer can see this team has struggled in these early ACC games on the road.

UNC’s zone offense was not very good.

Obviously, the glaring stat that sticks out was the terrible shooting percentage (35%). The team outside of Justin Jackson could not buy a basket in this game, especially the two starting guards, Joel Berry and Kenny Williams, who were a combined 1-16. While the outside shooters were not able to knock down shots, the inside post players were not getting the ball or taking any shots (Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks combined for nine total shots).

As Roy Williams said in his post-game press conference, “I feel like we rushed every shot after the first three to four possessions and that’s because we never had a chance to get the ball inside, because as I said, the big guys weren’t moving and when they were open, they weren’t doing a good job to get the ball inside.“

Also, the Heels allowed the Hurricanes to get set in their zone because they were not able to get out and run, due to being out-rebounded and only forcing ten turnovers. UNC had zero fast break points in the game, which is not very good if your offense is centered around playing up-tempo.

The Tar Heels missed Theo Pinson.

Some may see this as a stretch, but the Tar Heels missed Pinson on Saturday. I am not saying they would have won the game, but they certainly missed his energy that could have made it a much more competitive game. A guy can only motivate you so much cheering from the sideline in a boot.

UNC needed Pinson yesterday diving on the floor after a loose ball, or coming up with a big rebound and taking it to the other end and setting up a teammate for an easy basket. They missed the little things that Theo does each game that fills up the stat sheet and makes him a fan favorite.

The Tar Heels were 6-0 with Pinson in the lineup, which I am not sure is a coincidence. As I read somewhere on Twitter, Pinson takes UNC from being a very good team to a great team. Pinson is the spark off the bench that this team needs (If and when he does return to the lineup, I agree with Roy that he needs to remain in this role). Remember just the other day against Virginia Tech when Theo came into the game and UNC immediately went on a something-to-zero run, that is what they were missing on Saturday. Someone who could have come in off the bench, stopped Miami’s run in the first half, and given the Heels some life.