For those that believe that lightning does indeed strike twice, tomorrow’s UNC game against Boston College has to be a huge sigh of relief. The last time these two teams met, the Heels easily dispatched of the Golden Eagles 91-65, and barely broke a sweat in the process. It also says a lot that this was a road game, because for the most part the Heels have struggled mightily when away from the Dean Dome. Now they get their shot at BC at home, and I’ll be blunt: it could be a blood bath.
However, it is also very possible that UNC falls asleep behind the wheel and the Golden Eagles steal a game that would almost certainly demolish any remaining hopes of an automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Nothing can truly be ruled out this season, so let’s take a look at the three keys to tomorrow’s game.
Love and Davis’ road to consistency
RJ Davis and Caleb Love stepped up their game last night against Virginia Tech, scoring 37 points total, seven assists, and three turnovers. Love especially had himself a game, as he accounted for 22 of those points and five assists. After seeing them struggle against Miami and Wake Forest, it was great seeing them have success, but if I’m Hubert Davis I am issuing a challenge to both of them to repeat this performance against Boston College.
The nice thing about this matchup is that Love and Davis already had a similar performance in Boston. In fact, it was nearly identical: the two sophomores combined for 39 points, seven assists, and just two turnovers, and only missed four of their 16 shots. Davis was perfect in that game, going 5-5 from the field. When Davis and Love play their game and take advantage of defenses at opportune times, it is extremely hard for teams to stop them. If they can keep from playing hero ball and stay poised, we may be looking at another blowout between these two teams.
Finding production from the bench
Last night against Virginia Tech, UNC only scored two bench points for the entire game. If we want to be more specific, the Heels’ bench went 0-4 from the field, with their lone two points coming from Justin McKoy’s made free throws. With Dawson Garcia missing time due to a family illness, Hubert Davis’ options off of the bench are pretty scarce considering the fact that McKoy, Kerwin Walton, and Puff Johnson haven’t been able to produce. So what are his other options? D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles.
To this point in the season, Dunn and Styles have seen limited time on the court. It has been a sore spot for a lot of Carolina fans who would like to see the two freshmen get more burn, but Davis clearly has a plan for this team that involves Styles and Dunn learning everything they can before getting a bunch of minutes. Does this strategy work? I am not the person that should be answering that question, but what I do know is this: Davis may have to abandon ship on this plan, and see if Dunn and Styles can give the team some type of production. The other option is McKoy, Johnson, or Walton stepping up, but it may be better for the freshmen to get some quality minutes against a sub-.500 ACC team so that they can build up their confidence going into the February portion of the schedule.
Despite beating Virginia Tech by 10 points, UNC still had a pretty lousy shooting night. They made just 36% of the shots from the field, but they did knock down 40% of their three-point attempts. Still, these sub-40% shooting nights are starting to become a nasty habit, as they also shot 33% from the field against Miami and Wake Forest. Needless to say, making three-pointers and free throws went a long way in taking down the Hokies, but they are going to have to be a lot more efficient moving forward, and it starts against Boston College.
It’s hard to come up with some magical fix when it comes to shooting percentages, because I honestly didn’t feel like UNC took that many bad shots last night. There’s always going to be some head-scratchers, but I think for the most part there were some shots that they usually make that just didn’t fall for them. Part of this also goes back to the bench, who went 0-4 from the field, so that never helps. One would have to think that they will shoot much better against Boston College, which will hopefully be a big confidence booster before they square off against NC State this Saturday.