With Selection Sunday rapidly approaching and a whole host of ACC teams in the thick of battle with coronavirus, games are at a premium. Wins are at an even bigger premium, but Carolina was able to get a big one in their late add of Northeastern to their schedule. Carolina got solid production from the youngest Tar Heels on their way to an 82-62 victory.
Day’Ron Sharpe led the way for Carolina, using his commanding size down low to score 15 points and pull down eight rebounds. On a night when Garrison Brooks really struggled from the field and Armando Bacot scored the team’s first four points and little thereafter, Sharpe and fellow freshman big man Walker Kessler were pivotal to the team’s success. Kessler scored ten points of his own with seven boards and no turnovers.
Not to be outdone by the bigs, freshman guards Kerwin Walton and Caleb Love each had big games as well. Walton hit three of the team’s five shots from long distance on his way to 14 points. Love didn’t exactly light up the box score in points, but he did have a career-high nine assists to just two turnvoers to go with his six points in the game.
In the first half, Northeastern’s Tyson Walker was absolutely torching the Heels. He had all but nine of the team’s 30 points at the break, very reminiscent of the way Buddy Boeheim was taking it to Roy Williams’ squad in the first half of their game against Syracuse earlier this season. Like the Boeheim game, Carolina did a much better job of containing Walker in the second half. He scored just six points the rest of the way. Coleman Stucke attempted to pick up Walker’s slack with 14 points, but Northeastern didn’t get a lot of offensive production out of anyone else.
There was a sloppy stretch early on where Carolina turned the ball over three straight times down the floor. They cleaned up their act from there to only turn it over 10 times total in the game. They took every advantage of the Huskies’ 16 turnovers, scoring 22 points directly off them. Many teams have enjoyed that benefit when playing UNC this year, and it’s nice to see it work out in reverse.
It was an opportunity for the Heels to flex their muscles a bit against a team they should do well against and they made it happen. Getting 40 points off the bench is always a good night, and it was good to see guys like Kessler get going after being pretty up and down throughout the season to this point. Carolina was simply the better team and it showed, but credit goes to the Huskies for actually scheduling the game. UNC needs these games with so much uncertainty surrounding the rest of their ACC slate, and home games have been incredibly hard to come by.
If Louisville is able play, UNC’s next game will be on Saturday. That’s a big if at this point, but we’ll keep you posted.