Saturday’s 100-80 flattening of N.C. State marks the best performance from the North Carolina men's basketball team in Hubert Davis’ inaugural season as head coach.
It was a seemingly perfect night. There was a packed home crowd, an appearance from none other than Michael Jordan and a halftime ceremony honoring former head coach Roy Williams. Top that off with a 20-point win over an in-state foe, and you couldn't get a much better afternoon in the Dean E. Smith Center.
Now, with a looming matchup against the Louisville Cardinals, the Tar Heels have to hit the road, where things have been much less glamorous. While Saturday’s win propelled North Carolina to a 12-0 record at home this season, the team is just 3-6 outside of Chapel Hill.
Here are three things the Tar Heels should keep in mind if they hope to take down another team in red in the KFC Yum! Center on Tuesday.
A laser-focused team approach will be key to keeping the Cardinal offense at bay. Louisville’s Noah Locke and Malik Williams, both averaging roughly 10 points a game, lead the Cardinals' balanced offensive attack.
However, Louisville’s also proven that on any given night, any one of their players can step up and deliver a big-time performance. Take El Ellis’ 18 points off the bench against No. 9 Duke on Saturday, for example.
The Tar Heels can’t just cover their eyes and hope to find senior wing and defensive specialist Leaky Black patching the holes on defense. For North Carolina to be effective against this Louisville offense, hedging and help defense need to be at the forefront of every player’s mind.
In Saturday’s win over the Wolfpack, the Tar Heels tied their season-high nine blocks, six of those coming from junior big man Armando Bacot. The Cardinals aren’t a great shooting team but are hard to beat when they are able to attack the paint. The Tar Heels need to utilize their size in Black, Bacot and graduate forward Brady Manek to combat the Louisville drive.