Going into this game, there were three key things that needed to go much better than they did during the Phil Knight Invitational: the Tar Heels needed to be better with shot selection, play harder on defense, and overall just play smarter basketball. Unfortunately those wishes weren’t granted tonight, as Indiana had no issues disposing of the Tar Heels 65-77, which extends the Heels’ losing streak to three games.
This is a tough game to discuss, because I feel like everything that could’ve went wrong pretty much went wrong. The Heels offensively had arguably their most confusing and frustrating performance so far this season, which was mostly due to bad shot selection yet again. Credit Indiana for their aggressive defense, but also it wasn’t like the Heels were without their opportunities. There were multiple shots from guys like Armando Bacot, D’Marco Dunn, and Pete Nance that should’ve went in, but ultimately the shots just didn’t look right.
The same could be said about RJ Davis and Caleb Love, who both had sub-par performances yet again. Davis was a little more efficient than Love, finishing the game 4-11 from the floor and 1-2 from deep. Love, however, went 5-16 from the floor, and only made two of his seven three-point attempts. Hubert Davis stated this week that both guards needed to be better about shot selection, but it was obvious at times that Love and Davis both took rushed, panicky shots. In the second half we also saw a lot of high ball screen action from Love, and much like the game against Alabama, the results were mixed. It just feels like the Heels have no identity on offense right now, and it’s allowing teams like Indiana to take advantage — the Hoosiers had 17 points off of turnovers, while the Heels were only able to score four when given similar opportunities.
Perhaps the biggest discrepancy between the two teams was points in the paint: the Hoosiers scored a staggering 50 points in the paint compared to UNC’s 24, and a lot of that was thanks to Trayce Jackson-Davis. He gave Armando Bacot fits all night long, finishing the game with 21 points of 9-16 shooting. Bacot and Nance were eventually able to slow him down a couple of steps in the second half, but by then the damage was already done. It was hard to watch Bacot get out-worked in the paint, but it’s also worth noting that he hurt his shoulder in the first half, which may have had a little bit to do with his struggles.
Former Tar Heel Spenser Dalton tweeted out something during the game that I thought was very interesting. He thinks the easiest thing that the Tar Heels could change to get things back on track is rebounding, which has been one of the more shocking issues this season.
I think the easiest thing to change that would benefit this team would be to get more rebounds. No strategy, coaching, Xs, Os, or anything. Just effort.— Spenser Dalton (@sjdalton24) December 1, 2022
UNC definitely made his case that they need to crash the boards harder, as they were out-rebounded in this one 39-40. One has to wonder what the difference is between this season and last season, because while Brady Manek pulled down a non-zero amount of rebounds, he wasn’t exactly Dennis Rodman either. It really feels like this team needs to heighten their level of “want,” which is frustrating because as Roy Williams always pointed out, you can’t coach effort. Once the team decides that they want to win badly enough, maybe we will see things turn around.
Next up for UNC is Virginia Tech in Blacksburg this Sunday at 3:00 PM on the ACC Network.