UNC took care of business on their home court Friday night as they easily dispatched UC Riverside, 77-52. The win gave the Tar Heels a nice opportunity to tune themselves up ahead of tougher tests to follow next week in the Bahamas.
Armando Bacot was a force down low, as usual, scoring 21 points including the second made three-pointer of his career. Carolina’s next highest scorers were Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington with 11 each. Washington also made two three-pointers, which is just so huge for a guy of his size to be able to knock those down. We’ll see how it continues as the season progresses and the competition ramps up, but it was super fun to see those shots go down tonight. Harrison Ingram joined that trio in double figures with 10 points.
Despite the fact that UC Riverside did not score in the second half until nine and a half minutes had elapsed, snapping a 19-0 UNC run to start the second 20 minutes, they finished the game with 26 points in each half. The Highlanders shot just 28% in the second half to UNC’s 52%. UCR didn’t help their cause with their 17 turnovers either, directly leading to 16 Carolina points.
The biggest stat that jumps out for UNC is their 34 points off the bench. Hubert Davis has really struggled with bench production as head coach, and obviously it’s very early, but the bench has been much more of a weapon in the early going than we have seen in the last two seasons. Having guys like Washington and Elliot Cadeau coming off the bench is certainly a healthy upgrade.
UNC also feasted at the free throw line, making 15 of their 21 attempts while the Highlanders shot just nine and made five. The numbers will look like that when a team struggles the way that UCR did, but getting to the free throw line is always a hallmark of good Tar Heel teams. You have to be able to make them, though, and a 6-8 mark from Bacot is very encouraging.
The Tar Heels are back in action next week when they take on Northern Iowa the day before Thanksgiving in Nassau.