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UNC 102 , Portland 78: An ugly start turns into a beautiful finish

UNC proved to be too much for the Pilots in the opening game of the PK80 tournament

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Portland Joseph Weiser-USA TODAY Sports

If you decided to spend two hours of your Thanksgiving watching UNC play in the first round of the inaugural PK80 Tournament, you witnessed two very different halves of basketball. You witnessed a UNC team that couldn’t get anything going in the paint on either sides of the ball and shot poorly from three, and in the second half you witnessed a team that couldn’t be stopped and did any and everything they wanted to do.

Portland created a sizable amount of frustration for the Tar Heels in the first half of play. The Pilots shot almost 60% from the three-point line, continuing the trend of opposing teams lighting up UNC from behind the arc. The downside for them however, is that they weren’t able to shoot nearly as well from two-point range only shooting 37.1%.

On the other side of the ball, UNC had a very hard time getting anything going in the paint. The ball moved quite a bit around the perimeter with only a few shots being taken in the paint by the bigs. The three shot a total of eight shots and of those shots only made three, with most of the production coming from Garrison Brooks.

Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II led the team in scoring with 9 points a piece after the first half. Pinson was critical in keeping things together for UNC, managing to grab 7 rebounds and also had 5assists. He finished the game 11 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, coming dangerously close to a triple-double.

Coming out of the first half with a 13-point lead, UNC began to completely dominate the game as soon as the whistle blew in the 2nd half. The Heels went on a blistering 16-2 run and shot 9 for 9 from the field. Even more remarkable is the distribution of the points scored — Garrison Brooks, Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams, Luke Maye, and Theo Pinson all scored during the run.

Kenny Williams once again had a huge game for the Heels, scoring 17 points and had 3 rebounds and 3 assists. There is no doubt that his game against Stanford was not a stroke of luck and that he will continue to make it very difficult for Roy Williams to figure out who to start once Cameron Johnson is able to return to the court.

Luke Maye was also big in this game, finding a way to return to “New Luke” form by finishing the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He was crucial in the paint in the first half when the freshmen bigs had a hard time getting anything going. This is now Maye’s third game of the season scoring 20 or more points, and at this pace he will make a very good case to find himself on the All-ACC list at the end of the year.

The final, and easily the most surprising note of this game, would have to be freshman guard Andrew Platek. Platek scored 12 points for the game shooting 80% from the field, and shot 2 for 2 from the three-point line. He has had a difficult time getting anything going with his shot to this point, and so it was good to see him figure out a way to finally get this going. We will see if he is able to repeat his performance at some point this weekend.

From myself and the Tar Heel Blog staff, I would just like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!