Despite a 20-point win, a balanced scoring effort, and a 10-3 record entering ACC play, Roy Williams remained unimpressed following his team's win over Harvard.
“I love seeing five guys in double figures,” Williams said. “But it’s big time basketball in front of us now. We’ve got to play better.”
Against the Crimson (6-6) on Wednesday night, his team’s effort was more than enough to secure a 77-57 win. But against ACC opponents? Williams isn’t so sure.
“We have great kids, but we’ve gotta play with our brain more,” Williams continued. “This is big leagues now, it’s not biddy basketball.”
For most of the first half, UNC was able to keep Harvard at arm’s length — in control, but never fully comfortable. With forward Sterling Manley out with a sore left knee, forward Garrison Brooks contributed four of the Tar Heels’ first eight points — but had to promptly take a seat after picking up two early fouls.
Suddenly relatively undermanned, North Carolina leaned on senior forward Luke Maye and graduate forward Cameron Johnson to carry the scoring load. Both players had 10 first-half points and were a big reason for the Tar Heels’ 41-31 advantage at halftime. Maye would finish with a game-high 14, while Johnson finished with 13 points on 2 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc.
First-year forward Nassir Little also came out firing off the bench, finishing a strong and-one layup before halftime and throwing in a solid defensive effort. However, his head coach saw things differently.
“I think he was better tonight,” Williams said. “He gave up two threes in a row to 3-point shooters, so your definition of locked in (defensively) would be a little different than mine.”
Offensively, Little was undeniably effective, finishing with 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting, including a rare 3-pointer that featured a smooth-looking stroke. Little attributed his recent improvement in play to simply thinking less while on the court.