The Tar Heels responded to their four-game losing streak by rattling off two straight. Things weren’t always pretty against UCLA and Yale but a win is a win and this team has to take what it can get. Injury struggles and an inability to score have plagued the Heels for much of the season but the emergence of Jeremiah Francis has provided them a spark on both ends of the floor. Fellow freshman Anthony Harris has also given some solid minutes but his status is still up in the air after suffering a knee injury against Yale. Here are three things to watch for when the Heels dive back into conference play versus Georgia Tech tomorrow.
Pounding the ball inside
Over his last four games, Armando Bacot is averaging 6.75 points on 25% shooting. He failed to make a single field goal versus Yale and was basically a non-factor during that game. Bacot has shown some really nice flashes here and there but he has to figure out a way to produce on a much more consistent basis.
Meanwhile, Garrison Brooks has been the most consistent player on the team, averaging 12.3 points and 8.5 rebounds on 53.4% shooting for the year. When Bacot is playing up to Brooks’ level, the result is a hard-to-handle frontcourt tandem that most teams in the country don’t want to deal with.
Given the shooting struggles, the Tar Heels need to get both of these guys going as soon as possible against the Yellow Jackets.
Defending Michael Devoe
Georgia Tech’s best player and leading scorer is sophomore guard Michael Devoe. He’s currently averaging 17.9 points per game, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists while shooting 45.3% from the three-point line. No other player on the team is averaging more than 12.8 points nor is any other player shooting better than 30.0% from deep. Devoe is the sole igniter of the Yellow Jacket offense so shutting him down, or at least limiting him, is a major key to the game.
Over the years, the Tar Heels have had a propensity for letting one player on the opposing team go off for a career day. Devoe is almost definitely the guy who will be looking to take the most shots so there must be a focus on him defensively. Moreover, he’s likely the only player who can beat Carolina consistently from three. It’s essential that Roy Williams rotates fresh bodies on him throughout the game and tries to make the rest of the team beat them.
Getting Brandon Robinson open looks
Watching this team try to shoot the ball has been nauseating at times this season but Brandon Robinson has been one player on this team who looks like he could become a consistent deep threat. Robinson was a catalyst against Yale, sinking five of his twelve three-point attempts, one of which came with roughly two minutes left to put the Tar Heels up eight. He scored a career-high 20 points for the game.
Robinson’s three-point percentage (32.1%) might not seem like much but it’s still easily the best mark among players who’ve attempted at least ten threes. He’s also been the only one willing to take in-rhythm shots while the rest of the team just looks scared to hoist. As a senior leader, Robinson needs to continue to set an example with his play and hopefully others will follow suit. If the Heels ever want to break the seal that seems to have been placed over the rim, it starts with 3-Rob.