After a dominating victory over Clemson, the Carolina offense looked as if it may have turned a corner. Alas, shots outside of the paint were hard to come by, and the Tar Heels fell to Miami, 80-72. The two-game stretch served as a staunch reminder of the wise words of Roy Williams: “Everything looks better when the ball goes in the basket.”
Carolina was down a point at halftime after largely controlling the interior. However, Miami got out to a double-digit lead early in the second, and the Heels were unable to ever get themselves back within striking distance. Despite generating some decent looks, they finished the game 5-31 from beyond the arc.
The player of the game is the one Tar Heel who shot 50% or better from three: Leaky Black. He only attempted two deep balls the whole game, but he did hit a big three with around 11 minutes left to get the lead down to single digits. Black notched 13 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and two assists for the contest.
While he provided some solid production offensively, it was Black’s defense, naturally, that made the largest impact. He was matched up with Miami’s veteran guard and leading scorer, Isaiah Wong. As someone the Hurricanes typically play through, Wong got nothing easy. Black used his length to stymie drives to the hoop and prevent simple pull-up jumpers. Wong finished with just ten points on 3-8 shooting. Fortunately for Miami, it got more than enough assistance from other starters.
Perhaps most encouraging about Black’s performance was his aggressiveness with the ball. In a game where seemingly every bucket was hard to come by, he finished off some tough, contested drives to the basket. If they want to reach their peak offensively, the Tar Heels need Black to take what the defense gives him and remain assertive.
After a stretch in which he shot the ball much better from three, Caleb Love was just 2-12 from outside in this one. He did hit five of his seven two-pointers, finishing with 20 points on 7-19 from the field. RJ Davis added 23 points of his own, going 9-18 overall and 2-7 from three. Armando Bacot had 12 points and just four rebounds on 5-6 shooting.
With Carolina squarely on the bubble, this was viewed as a must-win game. Although the result is disappointing, the Heels will have another opportunity to boost their resume when they go to Raleigh on Saturday to take on the Wolfpack.