UNC narrowly escaped with a win against Yale Monday night in a victory that tied Roy Williams with Dean Smith on the all-time win list. It was a much closer call than any of us would have liked as the Bulldogs had a chance at a game-tying three as time expired. Brandon Robinson led the way for the Tar Heels with 20 points, including five threes, and the team needed almost every one of them.
Four Tar Heels were in double figures with Jeremiah Francis, Justin Pierce, and Garrison Brooks joining Robinson with 10, 14, and 11 points, respectively. Brooks equaled his point total on the boards as well with 11. In Francis’ first collegiate start, he did a little bit of everything. He had four rebounds, five assists, and just two turnovers.
Carolina shot 37% from the field, but Yale did as well. The shooting stats were remarkably similar with the Bulldogs making two more threes than the Heels and six fewer field goals overall. UNC turned the ball over just eight times, but neither team was reckless with the ball so it wasn’t much of a factor in the game. One of the bigger obvious differences was that Carolina was much better on the offensive boards with 15 while holding Yale to just one.
Despite allowing Azar Swain to go off for 21 points, UNC did manage to hold Yale’s leading scorer, Paul Atkinson, to just 10 points. The Bulldogs entered the game averaging just over 73 points per game, so the point output for them was not out of the ordinary. However, when you have a team like Carolina that has struggled to score, it means that every point feels bigger. Add all of that up and it ends in a narrow win that increases everyone’s blood pressure.
The real low emotional point of the game came in the second half when Anthony Harris’ knee buckled under him on a drive to the basket. Non-contact injuries are always scary and it would be irresponsible to speculate about what the injury might be before tests are completed, but it didn’t look good. Harris has been a difference-maker in his time off the bench with Cole Anthony out and he has worked so hard to get back after an injury to his other knee in high school. We can only hope for the best and hope that he can return sooner rather than later.
Carolina hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday as ACC play (non-weird season opener edition) begins.