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The Daily Tar Heel

Analysis: Three key stats that have defined the UNC men's basketball season

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UNC junior guard RJ Davis (4) shoots from the three-point line during the men’s basketball game against Duke in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, March 4, 2023. UNC fell to Duke 62-57.

For a game as simple as basketball, stats and analytics play a significant role in evaluating a team's performance throughout the season. Just ask Freddie Kiger, long-time ACC statistician. Here are a handful of statistics that best narrate North Carolina’s 17-4 start, as well as its early dominance in ACC play. 

29.9 percent opponent 3-point percentage

The strongest attribute of the Tar Heels’ defense so far has been their ability to run teams off the 3-point line. UNC is on pace to hold opponents to under 30 percent from three — a program low that would surpass the 2014-15 season.

Made with Flourish

Despite losing the skill set of Leaky Black — arguably the nation’s best on-ball defender from last year — North Carolina bolstered its defense through the transfer portal. The addition of Harrison Ingram, Jae’Lyn Withers and Cormac Ryan brought more athleticism and length to pair with the already solid defending of Armando Bacot and Seth Trimble.  

The influx of defenders has allowed UNC to stifle opponents' collective field goal percentage to only 39.8 percent. Combine that with North Carolina’s dominant rebounding margin and the Tar Heels are rated No. 4 in adjusted defensive efficiency per Kenpom. 

Preventing Duke from heating up from deep will be key for UNC, as the Blue Devils tout four 3-point shooters above 40 percent.

82.6 points per game — No. 1 in ACC

On the other side of midcourt, the Tar Heels are currently averaging the most points per game since head coach Hubert Davis has taken over the helm of the program. With eight players tallying double-digit performances this year, the scoring is far less top-heavy than last season. 

Davis’ emphasis on pushing the floor, as well as an uptick in 3-point shooting, has allowed North Carolina to be more efficient. 

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Bench scoring has also nearly doubled from last season. What was a seven- or eight-man rotation with limited scoring in the past has now expanded to a consistent eight- or nine-man group that has capable scorers down the line. 

So even if senior guard RJ Davis — the ACC leader in points per game — happens to struggle against the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels can likely fall back on the bench. 

Fourth oldest team in college basketball 

Along with the plethora of defenders grabbed in the transfer portal, Davis brought in plenty of experience. His 14-man roster boasts five graduate players and three seniors to mentor the lone pair of true first-years, making his team the fourth-oldest across Division I per KenPom.

In stark contrast, the Blue Devils are sporting a squad of first-years and sophomores spearheaded by senior guard Jeremy Roach. This handful of underclassmen have still had a taste of the rivalry, however, with the majority of its rotation — specifically the sophomores — familiar with the Dean E. Smith Center. 

@cadeshoemaker23

@dthsports l sports@dailytarheel.com

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