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UNC vs. Appalachian State: Three Things to Watch

Can the Tar Heels put Saturday behind them?

NCAA Basketball: Furman at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I think I sum up how we all felt after Saturday with this short clip:

If I had video editing skills I’m sure there’s a way you can put “UNC Fans” over Banner, with the score of Saturday’s...what do we even call that...all around. I’m sure we all wish we had Banner’s ability to turn into the Hulk and just smash some things up, but at this point the best we can do is move on and focus on the last non-conference game of the year.

That’s right, tomorrow night will be the last game of the non-conference slate as the Tar Heels will return from the Christmas break to play the rest of their ACC Schedule. So what are things to look for as the Tar Heels round out their slate?

Putting Saturday Behind Them

There’s really nothing redeeming about Saturday besides the fact that Kentucky had their way with the Tar Heels every which way that they could, and rubbed their nose in it. It was clear from the jump that it just wasn’t going to happen for Carolina, and perhaps the most disheartening thing was that they seemed to think that, too. Only Armando Bacot put together a game that was respectable, and even that wasn’t much to write home about as he wasn’t able to get a double-double.

The question then is whether or not the Tar Heels can just get over what happened not let one loss become two. The squad doesn’t have much of resume when you look at it. All of their games against ranked teams were losses, and dragging their way through Appalachian State could sabotage them even further. Kentucky is not going to be their last head-scratching loss this season, how they rebound will tell us a lot about what to expect for when it happens again this season.

Because it will happen again. Carolina isn’t going 20-0 in the ACC, so again, can the Tar Heels make sure that one loss doesn’t become two because they are harping on the previous game?

Return to Defense

The Mountaineers have...not been good. At 6-6 so far this season, they are shooting 43% on the year overall and 32% from three. They’ve turned the ball over ten times a game while only forcing twelve, they only get about ten free throws a game, and are on a 70 points per game average. Only one player, Adrian Delph, is averaging double digits in scoring.

In short, this should be a much easier team to defend than the Wildcats. That said, it’ll still take some effort because if you allow Delph to get hot, your life is going to be a lot more difficult. The Tar Heels will need to return to the level of defense they were showing before Saturday, because the vast majority of the teams in the ACC are playing at the level of their non-conference competition. Playing at that basic level should result in an easy win, but anything less and it’s going to look a lot like what we saw the last time the team had a horrid game: barely a win against a team from western North Carolina, or worse.

Calling the Guards

Caleb Love and RJ Davis have basically disappeared the last two games. It was easy to look past the Furman performance, because Carolina was so dominant down low they didn’t need the pair to really show up. Unfortunately, it was a lot more noticeable against Kentucky.

Love has averaged just nine points in the last two games, and RJ is only averaging eight. Carolina can get away with this once in a while, but the Tar Heels need this to be a “get right” game for the pair before the conference season gets into full swing. Two games are merely a blip, but if their last game before a week off is another weak showing, it could lead to some overcompensation against the Hokies. Pressing on offense could lead to pressing on defense-which on some level you saw already against Kentucky.

Ultimately they both don’t have to have twenty point efforts, or shoot a ton of threes, but they have to have solid efforts where they get the shot they want and convert them int he flow of the offense. It would help them put the stress of the last couple games behind them and be ready to go on a run in the ACC.