- For those who didn’t watch the game, they will look at the box score and say, “Wow what a blow out over a top-10 team!” But as those of us who watched the game know, that would be a completely incorrect assumption. This game began nearly identically to the Louisville game. But instead of folding, the resilient Heels showed what they learned from that previous shellacking, and provided a shellacking of their own.
- And that shellacking began on the defensive side of the ball with three reserves in the game. The under-16:00 media timeout didn’t come until 13:21 of the first half, with the Hokies leading 19-13. At that point, Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Seventh Woods all checked in. Virginia Tech hit another three for a 22-13 lead, but after that, Carolina began to chip away thanks to defensive pressure mostly provided by Woods. The Heels went on to outscore the Hokies 32-9 in the final 12:30 of the half. Here’s a prime example of turning defense into offense:
- Virginia Tech had two separate five minute scoring droughts in the first half. Carolina scored 20 straight points during the second of those droughts and forced Virginia Tech into 12 first half turnovers.
- Coming into the game, Carolina was fifth in the nation in scoring offense (87.3) while Virginia Tech was fifth in scoring defense (59.5). Something had to give. The Heels hit 60 to eclipse Tech’s season average with 15:31 still remaining. The 103 total points was 43.5 over the Virginia Tech season average.
- Roy Williams has said all season what a great shooting team this is. They have shown that ability in spurts, but tonight was the night the dam broke. The Heels shot 1-for-their-first-12 from deep and it seemed that it would be another dismal shooting night. But then something happened and Carolina hit 14 of their next 18 threes and finished 16-for-34. The 16 made threes is one shy of a UNC record.
- What a performance from Coby White. He led the team in points (27), rebounds (7), assists (6), steals (4), and blocks (1 – tied with Luke Maye).
- Nassir Little continues to make strides. He scored a career high 23 points, including two three-pointers. This is the third game in a row in which he’s scored double digits. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line. He grabbed six rebounds and had three assists. Oh, and did all of that in just 20 minutes.
- Potentially lost in the three-point barrage: while Virginia Tech was busy hitting six of their first seven three-pointers en route to building a 22-13 lead, Garrison Brooks scored eight of those 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
- Two of Virginia Tech’s best players, Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker both picked up three fouls in the first half. Their absence really contributed to Carolina’s ability to not only get the lead, but extend it in the first half.
Carolina allowed just 3 points in 10 possessions with Brandon Robinson on the floor. He also drew the huge charge to give Justin Robinson his 3rd foul (BRob's 3rd drawn offensive foul of the season). His defensive energy/impact continues to be important off the bench.
— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) January 22, 2019
- The play that encapsulated the game: with just under 3:00 to go and Carolina up 19, Coby White dove for a loose ball, passed to Luke Maye, who found Kenny Williams, who passed back to Maye, who promptly threw a beautiful lob to Nassir Little for a dunk and his career high 23rd point. Here it is:
- Another highlight play was Brandon Robinson’s threading of the needle to Kenny Williams with just under 10:00 remaining in the game. Robinson went down hard under the basket in the final minute of the game. Keep your eyes on his status. Thankfully, Carolina has eight days before it takes the court again.
- Part of Carolina’s ability to climb back into the game in the first half was that they only turned the ball over four times. Nine turnovers in the second half is less appealing, but understandable given a lead of as many as 27 points.
- Carolina came into the game third in the nation with 19.4 assists per game and dished out 25 more on 36 made baskets.
- This might seem backwards, but what an encouraging sign that on a night when Carolina scored 103 points, the team’s leading scorer, Cam Johnson, only had eight.
- Curiously, UNC only outrebounded Virginia Tech 35-32. The Tar Heels entered the game second in the nation with 43.89 per game while the Hokies are 320th in the nation with just 32.59 per game.
- ESPN commentators have shown a growing disturbing habit during games of talking about anything other than the game. The “Which Williams?” segment in the middle of game action tonight was a new low.
- Finally, this is the exuberance you love to see of five players having a great time playing together:
Roy Williams postgame press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game over a week away against Georgia Tech on Tuesday, January 29. Tip is at 8:00ET on RSN.
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