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UNC vs. Miami: Three Things to Watch

Key points for when the Heels host the ‘Canes tomorrow at noon.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are seeking their seventh straight win tomorrow at the Smith Center against Miami. Carolina is coming off an offensive explosion on Tuesday night and need a win versus the last-place Hurricanes to keep pace at the top of the ACC standings.

There are some very good trends from the last couple of games and there are still some areas in which the Tar Heels need to improve. Here are a few that you need to keep an eye out for during UNC’s Saturday matinee.

High Percentage Shots

In their victory over NC State, Carolina scored 50 points in the paint and added another 31 from the free throw line. The Tar Heels scored in high percentage areas and created even more opportunities from the charity stripe by doing so.

There have been some games this season in which Carolina has seemed to settle for jump shots or have relied too much on the outside shot. It was a relief to see the Tar Heels get it inside and drive to the net.

In the first game against Miami, UNC had just 14 attempts from the free throw line. The team settled for jump shots at times, but they eventually earned a tough road conference win.

The Tar Heels must continue to get the ball inside and drive in the paint. Against NC State, Luke Maye was strong getting to the basket, Coby White drove with authority, and Garrison Brooks was a versatile piece on the block. If they keep this up, there will be more opportunities for shooters like Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams to get open looks from outside.

Quality Playmaking

Who had the most assists for UNC versus NC State? It was not White or Williams, but Brooks. The 6-9 sophomore led the team with six assists, a career high, and pushed the team assist per game average to just a tenth from being the best in the nation.

The Tar Heels had 26 assists on 37 field goals against NC State and it seemed like there were playmakers up and down the court Tuesday night.

White had that awesome no-look pass to Maye and the open cuts to the basket are moves that certainly made Roy Williams happy. There is no doubt now that White is comfortable and capable being the floor general.

The added dimension of a big man setting up plays from mid-range and the paint is a great thing to see in February. Although consistency in this area will be a challenge, it was refreshing to see that type of effort from the five spot.

Are Turnovers the New Normal?

It seems as though this is always a point, but the Tar Heels committed 17 turnovers to NC State’s 11 last game, and had 15 against Louisville.

With the number of possessions Carolina has in an average game, the turnover issue may not be as big of an issue as with other teams.

But what happens against Virginia next week? Or Duke? Or in the tournament?

In the course of a season, there will be games where things are not going right on offense or they catch a shooter on a hot streak. These are the times when limiting turnovers are necessary to having a chance in the game.

For a big run in March, it seems as though turnovers need to be reduced. Maybe they are the new normal, or perhaps tomorrow is the game when UNC starts reducing their turnovers.

Extra Item: Do Not Look Past this Game

The last point jumped ahead to the Monday battle against Virginia. The writers at Tar Heel Blog can do that, but this team cannot.

Carolina was tied with Miami at halftime during their first matchup in Coral Gables, and were behind in the second half. UNC led by just two points with under six minutes to play.

Needless to say, things will be a lot more difficult if the Tar Heels look past Saturday to Monday’s game.