The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 6th

No. 17 Tennessee beats No. 18 UNC in 89-72 Hall of Fame Tipoff loss

Junior forward Armando Bacot (5) dunks the ball at the exhibition game against Elizabeth City State on Nov. 5 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
Buy Photos Junior forward Armando Bacot (5) dunks the ball at the exhibition game against Elizabeth City State on Nov. 5 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team got beat at its own game in a 89-72 loss to Tennessee Sunday. 

“You asked what needs to change?” head coach Hubert Davis said. “Everything needs to change.” 

North Carolina was dominated in almost every aspect. Tennessee played in transition better, scoring 19 fast break points to UNC’s 8.

Every time the Tar Heels scored, or Tennessee had to inbound the ball, they were off to the races, managing to weave past UNC defenders on the way to the basket. The signature speed of the high-tempo Tar Heel offense became the defining symbol of the Tennessee offense in the game.

Furthermore, Tennessee dished out 28 assists, while North Carolina struggled to create points off passing, generating only 9 assists.

The Tar Heels were forced to create their own shots. Although some players used this to their advantage, like graduate forward Brady Manek, who was able to score 24 points, including six threes’, players like sophomore forward Dawson Garcia — four points on 2-of-7 shooting — and sophomore guard Kerwin Walton — who missed all four of the shots he took — struggled.

On the other side of the court, Tennessee guard Kennedy Chandler nearly matched the assist total of the Tar Heels with eight. The passing effort by the Volunteers showed in the team point total, with nine different Volunteer players registering points and all but two of those players scoring over five points in the game, while only six UNC players registered points.

Something else the Tar Heels take pride in is getting the ball off the rim. But, on Sunday, UNC got outdone in that too. Tennessee grabbed 38 rebounds while North Carolina could only get 30. Then to just put the cherry on top of it all, Tennessee went into North Carolina’s house and put up 54 points in the paint while they were able to limit North Carolina to only 22 points in the paint.

Seemingly, everything that UNC has been historically good at, the Volunteers dominated at.

After playing Purdue, the No. 6 team in the nation, in what turned out to be a close loss just a day ago, what changed?

“Just a lack of the players following the coaches' scouting report,” junior center Armando Bacot said. “The coaches, they’ve been giving us everything the teams have been doing and they still somehow have been executing it. We’ve got to do a better job of following the scouting report.”

North Carolina led 14-13 with 11:31 remaining in the first half, but after that, they never saw the lead again. Tennessee went on a 6-0 run and as much as the Tar Heels tried to catch up, the Volunteers had an answer for nearly every rebuttal UNC offered.

Losing two straight games to top-25 opponents isn’t the end of the world, but in both games, UNC has struggled defensively. In today’s game, though, it was much more than just defensive problems. 

“We’re struggling right now,” Manek said, “It’s never good losing two games, especially two games that would’ve helped us later on against ranked opponents. We’ve gotta learn from this, we gotta play harder, we gotta want to play.”

Heading into a game against UNC-Asheville on Tuesday before facing a tough test against what will be UNC’s third top-25 opponent of the season in No. 4 Michigan almost a week later, something needs to change within this program. But what exactly is it?

“Our effort,” Davis said.

@noahmnroe

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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