There couldn’t possibly be a worse feeling than seeing a freshman have one of the best scoring performances that we have seen from a freshman since Harrison Barnes dropped 40 points against Clemson, and yet that is exactly what we just witnessed. A red-hot Coby White finished with 33 points, two rebounds, and three assists in the 89-92 loss.
While it would be great to talk about what went right for UNC, we need to discuss exactly what went wrong because this game’s final score doesn’t reflect just how much of a disaster this was. The Heels came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and broke out to a 17-4 lead. The defense was doing really well in the first half, and held the Longhorns to slightly more than 30% shooting from the field. Needless to say that it didn’t stay that way, as Kerwin Roach II caught fire and finished the half with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Texas finished the half shooting 46% from the field, and made 38% of their three-pointers.
In the second half, things only got worse from a defensive perspective. How much worse? Try Texas shooting 63% from the field and from three. The only bit of defense that saved UNC was when they went to the 2-3 zone, which helped get things back to a two-point game with 5:44 left in the second half folllowing a three-pointer by White. Once they went back to man defense, the game got out of reach, and despite making things really interesting down the stretch it wasn’t enough to break whatever weird curse that has befallen them when playing Texas.
As far as Coby White’s performance goes, there is nothing more that Roy Williams could’ve asked him to do tonight from an offensive perspective. Defensively, however, Williams wasn’t happy about what White had done, but the truth is he wasn’t the only one playing poorly on that side of the ball. Nevertheless, White was on fire in the first half, only missing two shots from the field, and made all four of his three-point attempts. He disappeared in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but then did all of the things that made him a record-breaking scorer in high school.
The downside to this, however, is he had little to no help. Luke Maye was noticeably absent in the game, going 5-15 from the field and only made one of his three-point attempts. Kenny Williams made one of his attempts, Nassir Little went 3-9 with one of those shots being within the last minute, and the list goes on.
Garrison Brooks and Cameron Johnson gave UNC some good minutes, however, with Johnson ending the game with 16 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Brooks had 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist, but got into foul trouble within the first 10 minutes of the game, and then again in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Eventually he fouled out, which allowed Roach to do any and everything that he wanted to do in the paint. This includes a posterizing dunk against Cameron Johnson after Luke Maye had just a few plays prior to that one had made the business decision to step aside. It was a long night, to say the least.
With all of this said, there amazingly was still a bigger problem even still: Texas had 31 points off of UNC’s 17 turnovers, which shows that better competition is going to punish the Heels every chance they get for their mistakes. Scoring 100 points numerous times so far is all fun and good, but not taking care of the ball leads to a world of hurt.
The Tar Heels will have to wait and see who they play tomorrow after the Michigan State / UCLA game wraps up. All that can be said is that if the Heels can’t remember how to basketball by the time things tip off tomorrow, we may be looking at a 5-2 team heading into the game against a top-ten Michigan team. Let’s hope that some lessons were learned tonight, and they can avoid being punched in the face like that again.