With Miami constantly alternating between man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone, North Carolina was never able to get into any sort of rhythm offensively. UNC struggled to find many open shots, leading to a season-low 20.7 shooting percentage in the first half.
More concerning than the poor shooting was how careless UNC was with the basketball. The Tar Heels made six shots and committed nine turnovers. The turnovers were particularly problematic when Williams had his second unit on the floor.
With Theo Pinson in a walking boot, the second unit perimeter lineup of Seventh Woods, Nate Britt and Brandon Robinson looked overwhelmed against the Hurricanes’ pressure defense, and the unit had far too many empty possessions.
Even when Williams put his starters back in the game, the drought for North Carolina continued. For the final 8:46 of the first half, the Tar Heels did not make a field goal as the deficit began to spiral out of control.
Outmanned on the interior
On Thursday, the Tar Heels dominated Virginia Tech on the backboards, but Miami had a 41-36 rebounding edge Saturday. North Carolina didn’t have a single player with more than six rebounds in the game. With so much of the UNC offense coming off offensive rebounds, Miami did an excellent job holding North Carolina to one shot and surrendered just eight second-chance points.
In addition to the rebounding edge the Hurricanes had, they were also the tougher team on the inside. When UNC tried to pound the ball inside, the Miami defense used its athleticism to alter shots and was in position to take charge when the Tar Heels recklessly attacked the basket.
Berry a non-factor
On the first possession of the game, Joel Berry fearlessly attacked the basket and was rewarded with two free throws. Those were Berry’s last points of the game. Berry was 0-for-8 from the field and had a tough time staying in front of Miami’s Bruce Brown (30 points) and Ja’Quan Newton (18 points) in pick-and-roll situations.
For the balance of the game, the most noteworthy moment from Berry occurred during the under-four media timeout in the first half, when he picked up a technical foul following a Justin Jackson offensive foul. Williams then scolded Berry in the huddle and sat him for the remainder of the half.
Much of North Carolina’s offensive struggles can be explained by Berry’s poor outing. When the UNC offense stalls, Berry has been able to bail them out late in the shot clock by pulling up from behind the arc or attacking the basket. But Berry never looked comfortable no matter where he tried to score from.