For those who were hoping that the Tar Heels would welcome NC Central into the Dean Smith Center and blow them out for an easy win, this game was a big disappointment. However, a win is a win no matter how you look at it, and this means that UNC improves to 4-2 following a very sloppy performance against the Eagles.
What we’ve learned about this year’s team is that they have an extremely difficult time getting off to a good start. The Heels looked out of sorts in the early goings of this game, with sloppy execution on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The Eagles found a way to replicate some of Iowa’s strategy by knocking down uncontested three-pointers thanks to busted perimeter defense.
On offense, the Heels had an extremely difficult time penetrating Central’s defense, and couldn’t knock down the three-pointers that they needed to create space in the paint. In fact, it wasn’t until the second half that Andrew Platek made the Heels’ very first three of the game. Things were mostly bailed out in the first half by Armando Bacot, who did a masterful job scoring off second chance opportunities as well as getting to the free throw line. He finished the half with 15 points, while the rest of the team finished with 15 points total.
In the second half things started to look a lot better for UNC. NC Central had gotten themselves into a good amount of foul trouble in the first half, and things only got worse for them in the second. NC Central guard Jamir Moultrie committed a string of fouls in the opening minutes, which earned him a trip to the bench. Meanwhile the Heels had finally worn down the Eagles’ defense, which led to getting some better looks at the basket.
Andrew Platek did a great job helping the Heels pull away, as he was single-handedly responsible for eight points in UNC’s 10-0 run in the middle of the half. Caleb Love finally got into a rhythm as well, and after only making one field goal in the first half he scored nine points in the second half off 3-4 shooting. He finally was able to find some driving lanes, and he also was able to dish out four assists to make up for his six turnovers for the game.
Of course we can’t possibly leave this recap of the game without discussing what Day’Ron Sharpe was able to do. The more I get to watch him play for the Tar Heels, the more that I am excited to see what the future holds for the 6’11 freshman. He finished today’s game with 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal. It’s been incredible watching him use his size to his advantage on the offensive side of the ball, but perhaps even more impressive is what he’s been able to get done on defense. He has been unafraid to to attack the ball for steals, has maneuvered well when crashing the boards, and is a bonafide rim protector. One can only hope that we get at least a couple more years with him, but at this rate NBA scouts have every reason to keep a close eye on him for the rest of the season.
Overall, this was a frustrating game that got a lot better in the second half, but near the end of the game things started looking precarious when the Eagles cut their deficit to six. Roy Williams has to to be losing a good amount of sleep trying to figure out how to get his team to open and close games better, and it’s imperative that they figure it out before they take on Ohio State next weekend. For the 2020-21 basketball season, this is a good win considering all of the struggles that traditional Blue Bloods are going through so far. It’s clear that this team still has a lot of things to fix, but for now all we can do is enjoy the result and hope they can end the non-conference portion of the season on a high note against the Buckeyes.