If there was any doubt about what this Tar Heel team was going to be this year, it’s safe to say that you can lay your worries to rest. UNC went on the road and dominated the Elon Phoenix, giving them their second road win in a row to open the season.
Coming off of his performance against Wofford, Cameron Johnson started the game on fire. Johnson made 8 of Carolina’s first 9 points in the game, and finished the half having only missed one attempt from the field. He finished the game making 7-11 from the field for 31 points, and pulled down 5 rebounds and had one assist.
The real story, however, was how UNC’s freshmen responded following their introduction to the college basketball regular season earlier in the week. Coby White came out looking more settled than against Wofford, and finished the game with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists and shot 50% from the field. Nassir Little also had an excellent performance, scoring 21 points in just 20 minutes of play, along with 7 rebounds, one block, and 3 steals.
The three steals may perhaps be the most underrated part of Little’s game as far as what UNC fans know about him, and it was exciting to see him attack the basketball as often as he did tonight. He was pesky, he flew in front of passes, and of course, finished off a couple of Elon’s turnovers with some thunderous dunks. One dunk specifically deserved to be on Sportscenter’s top 10, but unfortunately we know how that goes. Maybe if he had on a different jersey.
While UNC looked every bit like a top-10 team tonight, they weren’t without their issues. The Heels allowed the Phoenix to make 57% of their field goals in the first half, with Sheldon Eberhardt giving them the most trouble. He finished the game with 16 points, and shot 5-12 from the field after making 4 of his 6 shots in the first half. Thankfully UNC made adjustments in the second half, and forced Elon to only shoot at a 16% clip in the last 20 minutes.
After having a sub-par rebounding day against Wofford, UNC unsurprisingly looked better in this game. They pulled down 60 rebounds compared to Elon’s 31, with 24 of the Heels’ rebounds coming from the offensive side of the ball. From those rebounds the Heels managed to get 29 second chance points, compared to Elon’s 10.
Last note for this game: UNC’s 116 points tied for the most points scored in the Roy Williams era. The fact that this happened in a game where Luke Maye and Kenny Williams collectively had 9 points should be a solid indication that this year’s team is going to be extremely hard to stop.
The Tar Heels head back to Chapel Hill and spend the weekend getting ready for their first home game against Stanford. The game will take place this coming Monday at 7pm on ESPN2.