By looking at the box score alone, senior guard Kenny Williams had one of the worst nights of his career despite playing 29 minutes. He was 0-3 for 3-pointers, only tallied six rebounds, and scored zero points. Williams may have lacked the offensive impact, but his defensive efforts ultimately saved the Tar Heels and secured their win.
"Kenny Williams to me was the story of the game," head coach Roy Williams said. "He's a senior, he didn't score. I told him it was okay to score some also."
The guard was the main Tar Heel harassing Wofford’s golden player Fletcher Magee. In Wofford's 2017 matchup in the Smith Center, Magee was responsible for a game-high 27 points in the Terriers’ win. This year, he only scored 21, with 17 of those points coming in the second half.
Even with a hard hit in the second half leading him to favor his shoulder, Williams persisted. Because of the Tar Heel’s constant blocking and defensive efforts, Magee was 7-23 from the field and 3-16 from the 3-point line. Even when he’s lacking on the offensive front, his aggressive play still shines through.
Second half success
When the Tar Heels headed into the locker room during halftime, their heads hung low. Despite a 33-26 lead, the team was lacking the confident play needed for the game. Sophomore forward Garrison Brooks led the team with 13 points, while senior forward Luke Maye shouldered 10 points. Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson had 6 points of his own while first-year Nassir Little had 4 points.
The team’s free throw percentage was 25 percent while field goals were 42.4 percent and 3-pointers at 36.4 percent. Roy Williams needed to spark some life into his team in order to win the game. Based on the first half performance by everyone except Brooks, it was looking like a repeat from last year.
The second half was explosive for the Tar Heels. The team’s free throw percentage was 90.9 percent, thanks to Maye being 8-9 on the line, plus Brooks and first-year Coby White each making a shot from the charity stripe. While the 3-pointers weren’t as accurate as expected for UNC, the team still shot at 45.5 percent while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.
Johnson and Maye carried the Tar Heels in the second half, shouldering 11 and 14 points each, respectively. Johnson attacked from the 3-point line, making three out of his four shots, while Maye dominated in the paint and the free throw line.
Rebounds and second chances lead to success
After the Terriers collected four offensive rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the game, UNC tightened up its defense around the glass, eliminating as many chances as it could in Wofford’s second chance points. The Tar Heels collected 25 defensive rebounds by the end of the night, leaving Wofford with only nine offensive rebounds.
By eliminating their opponent’s second chance opportunities, the Tar Heels were able to head into halftime with a 33-26 lead. Maye led the team with seven defensive rebounds by the end of the night with Williams closely following with five of his own.
With UNC putting in more big players, such as Brooks, and focusing on the team’s overall defensive effort in the paint and around the glass, the Tar Heels have the potential to lead the conference in defensive efforts and second chance points.
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