That one was tough to watch.
Literally and figuratively. Since the game was on Bally or ACCNX and it was blacked out to the local region, UNC fans either had to rely on shared passwords, VPNs, or sites that will set your laptop on fire. Those who decided to rely on faith and sat this one out may be the real winners.
But we at Tar Heel Blog do not settle when games are difficult to watch, so we endured as Boston College and Carolina both finished three games in six days—coincidentally against each other, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech—before taking a breather prior to their next tip-offs on Saturday afternoon.
We mustn’t hold our noses up at any win, but this one will not be showing up on any instant classic specials. To buoy spirits before the NC State game on Saturday, here are three things learned, to the lyrics of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy.”
Oh, when you walk by every night
Carolina only scored four fast break points. Part of that is by design. Hubert Davis has the Heels playing into more sets than Roy Williams did, and Carolina doesn’t have a Coby White or Joel Berry to make them vroom, vroom they way they used to.
Last night, everyone also had heavy legs. Because UNC doesn’t get much bench scoring (last night, they had eight bench points, on Monday night they only had two) the starters play heavy minutes and shoulder just about the entire scoring burden. On the third game in six days, those heavy legs took their toll. And because Boston College was in the same situation, it meant this game was like trench warfare.
On Saturday, UNC will hopefully have a pep in their step. NC State doesn’t have much post presence with Manny Bates out for the season, and relies on the speed of their guards, especially Dereon Seabron. Carolina’s backcourt can’t be stuck in the mud if they want to keep him from getting to the rim.
State averages 10.2 turnovers per game, so if the Heels have their wits about them, they can get some easy run-outs to the basket, so they don’t have to slug it out for points, especially if Armando Bacot is struggling. We’ll get to that later.
Talkin’ sweet and lookin’ fine
Shout out to RJ Davis, who suffered just like everyone else on the court—13 points on 4-9 shooting, 1-5 from three—but managed to put together important stretches when Carolina needed them the most.
In the second half, 6’2” guard Jaeden Zackery posted up on Davis and backed him up into the charge circle and got a layup. Apparently Zackery had some things to say on the way back to defend, and RJ did not care for the trash talk and immediately “hulked up.”
Davis made a driving layup to take the margin back to six (43-47) and on the next offensive series, hit a huge three-pointer to put the Heels up seven, and forced BC to call a timeout.
It’s not hard to get points on RJ Davis if you post him up six inches from the rim. Take the points and smile. Don’t be like Zackery and poke the bear cub.
I get kinda hectic inside
Prior to the tip with Boston College, Armando Bacot was on a run of ten straight double-doubles:
Most of you weren't born the last time a Tar Heel had 10 straight double-doubles pic.twitter.com/TEJjbDlIf0— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) January 25, 2022
That streak came to an end last night as Bacot finished with 18 rebounds, but only six points. If the rims had been kinder, Bacot could have easily finished with 20 points, he was getting good looks at the rim. But he shot 1-10, and if it weren’t for his four made free throws, it would have been the worst scoring output of his career. This was on the heels of his perplexing shooting against Virginia Tech - when he started 6 for 6, only to go 1 for 12 the rest of the way.
Carolina can shoot the three-pointer—they’re shooting 37.1% on the season—but they don’t want that shot to be the centerpiece of their offense. Especially when they have a potential ACC Player of the Year in the post, who up until recently was scoring in droves and at a high percentage.
Bacot has been dealing with pain in his shooting hand and has at times worn a wrap on it. Hopefully some time off before the NC State game on Saturday will help heal it up in time to take advantage of a Wolfpack that does not have anyone who can matchup with him in the paint.
NCSU would be thrilled to chase long rebounds from missed threes and turn them into fast break points. What they don’t want to do is rotate bodies in the paint to bang with (and foul) Bacot over and over again. It is critical that UNC be able to go into Bacot and come away with points.
Bacot knows this more than anyone. To that end, here’s what he was up to after an exhausting night against Boston College: