It wasn’t pretty, but it doesn’t have to be. UNC shot just 39% from the field in their 80-63 win over Elon Saturday night. Caleb Love was impressive once again with 22 points and four three-pointers, extending the streak of games with at least one 20-point scorer in Hubert Davis’ first season as head coach.
Dawson Garcia had a strong showing with 22 points of his own with eight made free throws. RJ Davis was the only other Tar Heel to make it into double figures with 11 points, but Armando Bacot wasn’t far behind with nine points and seven boards. No Carolina player had double figures in rebounds despite the fact that UNC out-rebounded the Phoenix 48-24. It just illustrates how spread out the boards were.
The glaring statistic is the difference in rebounds. Elon attempted just nine and made seven of them while UNC attempted 35 and were successful on 27 of them. In a game that might have been a bit closer than most of us would have hoped for, that kind of disparity was huge. Thankfully, the Tar Heels were able to make the most of their opportunities and come away with nearly 30 free points.
Carolina was also able to take advantage of Elon on the offensive glass. The Heels had 15 rebounds on their own end that helped lead to 17 second chance points. Elon managed just three second chance points on their end, making it another lopsided statistical category. Both teams were more careless with the ball than they would have liked with 16 turnovers each, but UNC narrowly edged the Phoenix in turning those turnovers into points, 23-17.
The Tar Heels were able to shake off a frustrating first half in which they shot just 29% from the field to Elon’s 42%. Carolina held just an eight-point lead at the break, but looked markedly better in the second half. They shot 52% from the field after halftime in order to comfortably pull away. Elon came into tonight taking an absurd amount of their shots from the three-point line, and they certainly tried it again tonight with 29 attempts from long distance. Whether good defense or bad luck, they made just eight of them.
Tonight’s 63 points allowed to Elon are the most that UNC has given up since their loss to Tennessee back on November 21st. It’s been an impressive stretch for the Tar Heels, and exactly the momentum this team needs as non-conference play wraps up just before Christmas.
The Heels are back in action on Tuesday against Furman.