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The Daily Tar Heel

Three takeaways from UNC men's basketball's 77-54 win at Georgia Tech

Coby White vs Virginia Tech
UNC first-year guard Coby White (2) dribbles past Virginia Tech sophomore guard Wabissa Bede (3) in the Smith Center on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. The Tar Heels won 103-82.

The No. 9 North Carolina men’s basketball team breezed by Georgia Tech with a final score of 77-54 on Tuesday night. Carolina now sits at 16-4 on the season with a 6-1 record in the ACC. Here are three takeaways from the game -- including what this performance means moving forward.

Coby White stays hot, Cam Johnson turns things around

First-year guard Coby White continues to prove his worth on both ends of the floor, despite Head Coach Roy Williams’ usual insistence on seniority and veteran leadership. The reigning ACC Co-Freshman of the Week followed up a 27-point performance against Virginia Tech last Monday with 19 points, including a blistering 5 of 9 clip from 3-point range. 

While turnovers have been a point of contention for White — par for the course for a first-year point guard playing in the ACC — he coughed it up just twice in 31 minutes and dished out eight assists to boot.

As for Cameron Johnson, the graduate senior guard eclipsed 15 points just once in the last four games entering Tuesday and managed just eight points in the win against Virginia Tech. However, he turned things around against the Yellow Jackets. 

After scoring nine points in the first half, Johnson exploded for eight straight points to begin the second period, punctuated by an emphatic dunk following a Georgia Tech turnover. He led the Tar Heels with a game-high 22 points and shot an efficient 8-for-10 from the field -- including 4-for-6 from 3-point range.

Junior guard Brandon Robinson also deserves a mention. In a return to his home-state of Georgia, Robinson scored seven points in18 minutes off the bench. He is now a strong 7-12 from 3-point range in ACC play.

Improving defensive effort

Make no mistake: Georgia Tech does not have a potent scoring attack. The Yellows Jackets were No. 292 in the country in points per game entering the game, and they have just two players that average more than 10 points per game. Still, the ACC is the ACC, and holding a conference opponent well below its season average of 68.4 points per game has to feel good — especially for a North Carolina team that has had noticeable struggles on that end of the floor.

The Tar Heels limited Georgia Tech to 35 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from 3-point range. Jose Alvarado, the leading scorer on the season for the Yellow Jackets, was held to just five points on 2 of 9 shooting.

As for North Carolina’s other area of improvement — turnovers — Tuesday night was not a strong showing. As a team, the Tar Heels turned it over 15 times, which is just above their season average of 14.3 per game. 

Perhaps more troubling is the fact that eight of those turnovers came from seniors, including five from forward Luke Maye alone. In fact, Maye struggled in multiple facets on Tuesday, finishing with just four points on 2 of 9 shooting. To state the obvious, North Carolina will need Maye to be better for this team to reach its potential.

Threes far from home

The Tar Heels now sit at 4-0 in ACC road games this season, and have shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range in all of those wins. Compare this to 36.3 percent from deep in three conference games in Chapel Hill, including a dismal 3-22 mark in a historic loss to Louisville on Jan. 12, and a pattern emerges. 

Though the disparity isn’t incredibly large, and the sample size is limited, it’s a trend to keep an eye on. There are always teams that are more comfortable away from home. One mark of a good squad is the ability to win in hostile environments. Time will tell if the Tar Heels can remain hot on the road as the ACC season progresses.


@DTHSports |

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