North Carolina was tasked with taking on three games in five days. Yes, that has been repeated over and over, but it’s worth mentioning when they are literally the only team to have to do so. Whatever you expected them to do in a stretch that involved playing Duke and NC State in under 48 hours, they probably did better.
The Tar Heels finished that stretch of games with three wins. Perfect. The game against Notre Dame could have easily been a letdown matchup coming off big wins against two in-state opponents. It wasn’t. Carolina did let the Fighting Irish hang around for an uncomfortably long time, but they closed the game on an incredible run that slammed the door and locked it behind them.
Theo Pinson had the team’s only double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He also dished out five assists. It continues to be hard to properly give him the credit he deserves for how much he means to this team. Joel Berry II scored 21 points in 33 minutes of action to lead the way in scoring. Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams also finished in double figures for the Heels.
UNC shot 53% from the field and 38% from three-point range for the game. Although it looked like Notre Dame was going to obliterate them from distance, John Mooney’s six threes feeling too familiar, Carolina was able to limit the damage. That Carolina shot better from three-point range than Notre Dame is mostly due to the fact that Matt Farrell was 1-12 from deep, but hey, it’s still a thing.
Points in the paint were an issue in the first half with neither team being effective inside. Carolina changed that in the second half with 24 points in the paint. They almost doubled up the Irish in that category for the game. Notre Dame got production from their bench that UNC didn’t with 24 points coming from non-starters, but it ultimately didn’t matter.
What the Heels were able to do in this stretch is so important for next month. They seem like they may finally be rounding into the form that can propel them deep into the postseason at just the right time. The schedule eases up a bit after this, thankfully. Hopefully the next stretch goes as well as this one did.