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UNC vs Davidson: Three things learned

Defensive intensity, strong starters, and Seventh Woods’s impact.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Davidson Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels may have “only” beaten the Davidson Wildcats by ten points, 85-75, but that’s a much closer score than the game actually was. UNC used a balanced combination of strong attack and strong defense and kept the Wildcats at bay. Joel Berry II and Luke May led the Heels with 27 and 24 points, respectively. What did we learn from this in-state matchup?

First off, the Heels performed better on defense than they did earlier this week against Michigan. The one bright spot from that MSU game (other than how strong MSU has looked ever since) was the UNC defense, which took a little bit longer to get started against the Wolverines.

The Heels were a bit closer to their old ways against the Wildcats. They shot only forty percent from the field, although they did shoot forty-two percent from deep. That suggests that the next step in improving the rest of the season is to work on that perimeter defense.

The Heels also won in an unsustainable way: relying too heavily on their starters. Only two players on UNC’s bench—Sterling Manley (7) and Brandon Robinson (8)—scored any points. The rest of UNC’s bench mob went 0 for 6 from the field. And aside from a Brandon Huffman turnover, only two players recorded any stats for the Heels. UNC needs to get their bench more involved if they still want to be playing in April. Fifteen points won’t be enough most nights.

Granted, UNC also felt the loss of Seventh Woods for the first time this season. Sometimes a player’s value isn’t felt until they’re absent. Without Woods, Berry took on a lot of the offensive scoring load, taking more threes (11) than the rest of his team combined (9).

On the distributive side of things, Theo Pinson actually lead the team in assists, with five, only 14 out of UNC’s 32 field goals were assisted. Woods is battling a nagging foot injury, and may not be able to make it back on the court until after exams. The next few games will show us for sure who Roy is going to trust when minutes are lost: his starters or his depth?