After nearly a week off from practice, the North Carolina men’s basketball team showed little signs of offensive rust in its 96-63 victory over UNC-Greensboro on Monday night. But Coach Roy Williams still pointed to the defense as an area his team needs to improve on.
In the second half, the Spartans whittled the Tar Heels’ lead to 11 with just over 11 minutes remaining. But UNC went on a 14-5 run to make it 76-56 and put the game out of reach. The spurt included six points from Johnson — including four on back-to-back dunks.
Johnson led the team with 16 points and 16 rebounds. In the second half alone, Johnson had 12 points and eight boards. No other UNC player had more than four rebounds in the game.
Senior guard Marcus Paige jammed his ankle in last Monday’s game against Appalachian State, but after swishing a three-pointer in the early minutes, it was clear the injury had no lasting effects. In the first half, the senior guard scored 11 points on 5-8 shooting and dished two assists. He finished with 14 points in a limited 21 minutes of play.
UNC-G had no answer for the Tar Heels offense — which shot above 50 percent in both halves and 55.4 percent for the game. Six different UNC players were in double figures.
But defensively, three-point shooting remained a concern for the Tar Heels. UNC-G missed its first eight shots from long range, but finished the game with nine 3-point baskets. While the offense continues to overpower opponents as UNC enters conference play, the defense remains a concern for Williams and the Tar Heels.
“Both games that we’ve lost were in the last 20 seconds or 30 seconds against Northern Iowa and one-tenth of a second against Texas. We had a chance to win both games. I think we’ve gotten better. Some guys have improved, but we have to get better on the defensive end.” — Coach Roy Williams on UNC’s performance during its nonconference schedule.
UNC-G shot 34.6 percent from beyond the arc in Monday night’s match-up. Entering the game, UNC allowed its opponents to shoot 38.6 percent from the 3-point line, which ranked 317th in the country.
Three numbers that matter
4: The Tar Heels have scored over 90 points in four of its last six games, but have yet to eclipse 100 this season. According to KenPom.com, UNC ranks first in the nation in offensive efficiency.
18: UNC made 18 free throws and shot 81.8 percent from the free throw line against UNC-G. Before Monday’s game, the Tar Heels were shooting just 73.2 percent from the line.
41: UNC’s bench scored 41 points. Depth was an emphasis for Coach Williams and the Tar Heels, given Paige’s minor ankle injury and junior forward Kennedy Meeks’ absence from the lineup.
The Tar Heels host Clemson at 7 p.m. on Dec. 30 in their home ACC opener.
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