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UNC vs. UNCW: Three Things Learned

The first game of the season resulted in a W for the Tar Heels, but there’s a lot of work to do.

NCAA Basketball: NC-Wilmington at North Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the #1-ranked Tar Heels secured their first win of the season against the UNCW Seahawks. Some things that happened in this game were not surprising — Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, and Armando Bacot all reached double figures, continuing their dominating offensive play from the 2021-22 season. However, things were messy to say the least, but some solid defensive play made sure that the Seahawks didn’t sneak out of the Dean Dome with a win.

Let’s go ahead and discuss three things that we learned from what was a sloppy, yet promising game.

The offense isn’t clicking yet

As I mentioned above, Love, Davis, and Bacot had very productive nights offensively. Love and Davis finished the game with 17 points apiece, and Bacot finished with 16. From a field goal percentage perspective, these three players were pretty efficient, but everyone around them struggled. When looking at perimeter shooting, the entire team shot a poor 20%, with Davis and Love being the only two players to knock down threes.

Point totals and shooting efficiency aside, UNC’s biggest sin in this game involved their lack of sharing the ball. They finished the game with just four assists, which is almost certainly going to be a big talking point for Hubert Davis in practice this week. It’s the first game in the season, they likely had first game jitters, but there is obvious room for improvement before the Heels take on Charleston Friday.

UNC’s defense showed a lot of promise

While the offense has a lot of room for improvement, the Heels’ defense looked pretty good for the first game of the season. The returning four players from the Iron Five did a good job pestering the Seahawks, but there were some new faces that also did a really good job. Most notable of those faces is Seth Trimble, who I will get to in the next segment.

The Seahawks finished the game shooting at a 29% clip from the field, and 25% from the three-point line. They also coughed up the ball 11 times, with UNC being responsible for five steals. Undoubtedly the Heels’ defense wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they played well enough in this game to cover up for their lackluster offensive performance. Hopefully they keep up the intensity, because it will keep them afloat in the coming weeks while they figure out how to gel on offense.

Seth Trimble may be my favorite non-starter this season

I’ll be honest: once I found out J.P. Tokoto’s younger brother was playing for the Tar Heels, I was really excited. Tokoto was a pretty polarizing player while he was in Chapel Hill, but there were aspects of his game that I really loved. I see some of those things in Seth Trimble, but also if I’m being honest, I think he will be a much better player than his older brother when it’s all said and done.

The most impressive display from Trimble last night had to be his defense — I don’t remember the last time I saw a UNC freshman guard so well in their first game before. He got into ball handlers, kept his man in front of him really well, and overall attacked the ball in a way that would make an outsider think that he was an upperclassman. He did pick up three fouls, so maybe his aggression could be dialed back a touch, but overall I really like what I saw from him last night.

Trimble wasn’t able to get much done on offense, but he did attack the rim for a layup in the second half, giving me flashbacks of watching his brother do the same thing. I’m really eager to see how his game progresses throughout the season, and hopefully he will be a highly capable point guard going into the postseason.