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UNC 77, Harvard 57: Five players reach double figures in Tar Heels’ final non-conference win

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Nassir Little and co. stepped up even though the Heels were short-handed.

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In the Tar Heels’ final non-conference game of the season, five players reached double figures and turnovers were limited to just 11 as UNC topped Harvard, 77-57. Luke Maye led the way with 14 points and seven rebounds, coming in just ahead of Coby White and Cameron Johnson with 13 each. Nassir Little scored 12 points off the bench and grabbed seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Kenny Williams also scored 11.

With the Heels playing short-handed without Sterling Manley, Roy Williams went to Little a bit more than we’ve seen to this point. Little certainly rose to the occasion with a strong effort on both sides of the ball. He was much better defensively and offensively than we’ve seen for most of UNC’s non-conference slate.

Garrison Brooks found himself in early foul trouble again against Harvard, picking up two fouls in the first five minutes for the second consecutive game. Without Manley, that could have definitely spelled trouble against a better team. His foul issues have been eerily reminiscent of Isaiah Hicks’ issues at their worst. That’s one thing that will definitely need to improve in the very near future, particularly if Manley has to miss any significant chunk of time.

If limiting turnovers was one of UNC’s goals for the game, and it should have been, they succeeded pretty well. They gave the ball away just 11 times. Harvard, however, did not get that same memo. They turned the ball over 22 times that led directly to 21 UNC points. That’s the difference in the game right there.

One statistic where UNC was able to stand out was in their 12 assists. The defensive effort was much better tonight than we’ve seen from them at many points this season. Their hands and feet were active and effective. Carolina held Harvard to just 39% shooting from the field and 33% from three for the game.

You can look and see that the last couple of games have been trending in the right direction for the Heels and it couldn’t come at a better time. Conference play begins now and the ACC looks to be tough this year. Granted, UNC got to play both Davidson and Harvard with some of their better players missing, but you can’t control your schedule. You can only control what you do with what you’re given, and the Heels managed to come away with wins. Hopefully all of the kinks that popped up during the early going will have been ironed out when the Heels get to Pittsburgh on Saturday.

UNC scored the fewest points they’ve tallied in a win. It’s good that the team proved they can win without scoring 90+ points, as they have done many times so far this year, but they are going to also need to win games in the 70s and 80s. They found a way to do that tonight.

The Heels are back in action on Saturday for their first game of conference play on the road against Pitt.