Scoring 80 points for this year’s UNC team? Pretty good.
Putting up a decent fight against the #2 team in the country without your best player? Not bad.
This team making seven three-pointers? Cool.
Unfortunately, none of it was enough. Maybe if Carolina had Cole Anthony. Maybe if Armando Bacot didn’t look like something was bothering him for the second straight game. The Tar Heels put up a pretty good fight against the Zags, pulling to within five in the second half at one point, but they just didn’t have enough to get over the hump that has plagued them the last few games.
Garrison Brooks was the Heels’ leading scorer with 16 points, following closely by Christian Keeling with 12, and Jeremiah Francis with 11. It’s looking increasingly clear that Francis is the best point guard option for Roy Williams as long as Cole is on the shelf recovering from a partially torn meniscus. Francis was an obvious difference maker in tonight’s game and has looked in better game shape than KJ Smith in the last two contests.
The Bulldogs shot 59% from the field for the game and that was with UNC playing what felt like pretty strong defense for long stretches. Gonzaga’s height was boosted by the fact that Bacot picked up two quick fouls in the first half and a third early on in the second half that limited his minutes. Something has just seemed off with Bacot since coming back from his ankle injury and another poor night in the box score isn’t going to do anything to soothe those fears.
It feels like this has been written 100 times so far this season, but there are just no answers right now. The offense gets some decent shots that they can’t knock down despite being wide open. At other times, they try to do too much and play out of control. This game featured another huge run by the opposing team that coincided with Carolina playing out of control and making poor decisions. It helped dig a grave that the Heels were not able to climb out of.
The team will have to regroup quickly before taking on UCLA in Las Vegas on Saturday. No one wants a fifth straight loss in their stocking, so I hope you’ve all been very good this year in hopes of avoiding that fate.