We’ve seen some ugly offensive performances out of this year’s UNC basketball team, but the first half of the game against Georgia Tech was as bad as any. Carolina’s MO this year has been sputtering beginnings to the second half that have buried a team whose offense comes at a premium. Tonight, the drought didn’t wait for the second half. It came right from the beginning.
It took the Tar Heels nearly 15 minutes to score their first field goal of the game after an 0-15 start. Free throws were the only thing keeping Carolina from getting shut out for over half of the first twenty minutes of play, and it seemed like there was no answer for the Yellow Jackets in the paint. The defensive issues down low continued throughout the game, as Georgia Tech scored an atrocious 58 points in the paint.
Although Carolina was able to show signs of life at the end of the first half offensively, the defense was so poor that it didn’t allow the improvement to matter much in terms of trimming the deficit. UNC came out in the second half playing like a completely different team than the one that failed to make a bucket for over half of the first half, but Georgia Tech had an answer for every run the Tar Heels went on.
Garrison Brooks was the sole reason the game was even remotely close. He scored a career-high 35 points before fouling out late. Brandon Robinson joined him in double figures for the Heels with 12 points on four three-pointers, and Justin Pierce chipped in 11 points of his own. The 56-point second half was a huge difference from the 27-point first half, but the hole was just too big for the Heels to fully climb out of.
The Yellow Jackets finished the game shooting 59% from the field to UNC’s 43%. Twenty one of Georgia Tech’s points came off Carolina turnovers with Christian Keeling being the worst offender in the category with four.
It’s kind of incredible that Carolina was able to score more points than they have in any other game this season after taking most of the first half off. Something is there, obviously, but it just hasn’t clicked in the way it needs to. The jury is still out on whether it will or not with the thick of ACC play left in front of them. The road doesn’t get a lot easier from here.
Carolina’s next chance to get in the win column for 2020 comes Wednesday at home against Pitt.