After all the craziness surrounding this game, North Carolina came away with a pretty good win against a pretty good Notre Dame team. Here are some things Sunday’s win in Greensboro taught us.
Rebounds are good
North Carolina’s rebound has been its biggest strength all season, and that held true on Sunday as well. Against Notre Dame, the rebounding was what got the Tar Heels over the line.
UNC won the rebounding battle 44-25, and got 17 offensive boards. That contributed to Carolina scoring 40 points in the paint, and getting 19 second chance points. The rebounds allowed the Tar Heels to build the lead up to as much as 15, and some timely defensive ones helped seal the game as the Irish threatened late in the game.
It’s no surprise rebounds are crucial to Carolina wins, but this game was a huge example of why.
A confident Kenny Williams is a real asset
Over the past month or so, Kenny Williams has generally played poorly on the offensive end. Since the Syracuse game, he’s averaged under four points per game, and was shooting 20%.
Against Notre Dame, Williams knocked down his first three pointer, and went on to have a good game. He went for 11 points on 4-6 shooting, including 3-4 from three. He also chipped in with three assists and three rebounds.
Among the starters, Williams is the fifth option on offense. That means even when he hasn’t been shooting well, the Tar Heels have still been coming out with wins in most games. However, in close games like this, Williams can be a much needed bonus if he gets going early.
UNC closed out the game in impressive fashion
In conference play, one thing that the Tar Heels haven’t always been great at is putting away teams in a timely fashion. The games against Wake Forest, Boston College, and Pitt ended up much closer than they probably should have been late.
Yes, North Carolina did have a 15-point lead in the game, and yes, it got cut to two with under four minutes. Not to sound salty, but a large part of that had to do with some questionable officiating.
With all that, Kennedy Meeks fouling out, and a good Notre Dame team making a charge late, the Tar Heels still managed to rattle off six of the last nine points and come out with a win. The defense held the Irish to just three points in the last 3:30 of the game. After the way the defense played against Pitt, they needed to step up and they did.