But Williams was UNC’s hottest hand, with three 3-pointers already under his belt. And so the scramble began to put a hand in the face of Williams. The sophomore guard dribbled left, utilizing a Tony Bradley pick, and quickly bounced a pass to the rolling Bradley as two defenders swarmed him.
“We believe in each other on the offensive end,” Williams said. “There’s no hesitation when it comes to passing the ball.”
Bradley, a first-year forward averaging 15 minutes per game, couldn’t be a threat to score, right? Nah, he took one dribble toward the basket and skied for the layup.
Completely out of position, the Notre Dame defense could do nothing but foul Bradley on his way up. The eighth player in UNC’s rotation took the contact, scored the basket and drew the foul.
“That’s exactly what we want,” junior guard Joel Berry said. “Whether it’s Kenny, Justin or Tony, we just have a lot of guys we can go to when we need a bucket.”
Notre Dame had done everything right on paper, but the Tar Heels’ balanced attack was simply too much to scheme around.
“We just have so many weapons,” Williams said. “I think from the start of the game, you can’t really focus on one guy. If you do too much, then somebody else is bound to go off.”
On Sunday, everybody went off for the Tar Heels.
In a show of offensive dominance, every UNC player who spent more than three minutes on the floor scored. Perhaps more concerning for the opposition, six Tar Heels scored in double figures and eight hauled in an at least one offensive rebound.
Head coach Roy Williams preaches that every player can contribute to UNC’s attack, not just its starters.
“I’ve always said, it’s not just those five that we have out there,” he said.
While UNC’s wealth of capable scorers provides a lift for the team, it can drive opposing teams crazy.
“As a player, it’s so hard to guard a team with multiple guys that can score,” senior guard Nate Britt said. “You can’t even just guard your man. Your head is just on a swivel because anybody can score.”
“It’s just — it’s hard,” he said, sighing with a grin on his face.
The Tar Heels put some of that same stress on the Fighting Irish, leaving them scrambling on defense for most of the contest.
But UNC’s standout offensive performance came on an otherwise poor shooting night. The Tar Heels struggled from three for much of the game, and they shot just over 34 percent from outside the paint.
“We’re not always gonna have great shooting nights,” Britt said. “Sometimes we’re going to hit from three and sometimes we’re going to be cold. It’s our job to make sure we can still score when we’re cold.”
The Tar Heels responded by passing their way into the paint, earning themselves easier buckets and trips to the free-throw line.
“We believe in each other a lot, which is why we’re so unselfish when we’re out there,” Kenny Williams said. “I think our assist numbers reflect that.”
The players’ trust in each other showed through, as the Tar Heels racked up 23 assists on 30 baskets.
With the ball finding every player on the court — and every player finding a way to score — the Notre Dame defense had nothing to do but hope for a stop that never came.