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.
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