The North Carolina Tar Heels put an ugly loss behind them by defeating the Michigan Wolverines as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Both teams started out shooting hot but only UNC was able to keep up the rhythm for a full game. The game finished 86-71 in favor of the Heels, and Luke Maye led all scorers with 27 points. What can we conclude from their performance?
This team has a short memory. One might have wondered how this team would react after a humiliating defeat, but thankfully they were able to move on to the next one and forget about taking that L. The Heels had more points by halftime (51) than they did in all of the Michigan State game (45). They made few major mental mistakes and returned to form effortlessly, with body language showing that the team wasn’t going to dwell on the missed opportunities against MSU for long.
In order to beat the Heels, you have to beat them down low. In the Roy Williams era, pace has been everything for the Heels and very few teams have been able to beat them when they’re playing at their best and playing in their system. MSU took UNC out of the system and there was a pretty rough landing. UNC managed to stay in their system and keep up the pace for a full game against Michigan. And although Michigan started out strong, they weren’t able to keep up with UNC and faltered late.
As it turns out, smarter shots are better shots. UNC only attempted fifteen deep balls against the Wolverines, and that’s a sign that the players are choosing their shots wisely (Michigan attempted 34 threes). Of those fifteen, they converted seven of them—almost half of their shots. Throughout this year, Theo Pinson has been under the microscope because of his poor shooting percentage on jumpers. On Wednesday night, both he and the team chose fewer, higher percentage shots. Most importantly, they made many of those shots.