ACC opening: UNC basketball proves its worth in Georgia Tech victory
It was the last word the North Carolina players saw on the locker room whiteboard ahead of their 79-62 win over Georgia Tech on Sunday at the McCamish Pavilion. And they’re hoping their victory means it’s the last word when they hear UNC coach Hubert Davis repeat it to them.
“He told us about 10 times before practice, he just said about 10 of our games in a row saying we were going to win this game and validate this one by winning the next game,” said the forward. junior Armando Bacot, who finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. “He kind of went on and on, so that’s kind of our theme.”
Davis broke down the definition of the word, used it as his pre-practice thought of the day, and reiterated his message to the media that the only way the Tar Heels (6-2, 1-0 ACC) could beat the n Michigan’s 24th Wednesday would mean anything is if they followed that performance with another major effort in their ACC road opener.
âI gave them the definition of validation in terms of evidence,â Davis said. “And I was like to prove to yourself, to prove to this program, to prove to people that way you play defense, energy and effort and the way you shared basketball on Wednesday night.” was not an overnight affair. That this is what we are. This is our team.
He gave the Heels the ultimate post-game validation, but first reminded media that he said on ACC Tipoff media day in October that too few people were talking about Carolina.
Pastner watched their losses to Purdue and Tennessee last month in preparation for Sunday’s game and noted how much they have improved since then.
“They are a much better team, as I would have liked us to play in November, because of the way they were playing at the start of the season,” said Pastner. âThey’re not as good (then) as they are now and that’s a credit to Coach Davis and the staff. They have improved and I think they are good enough to win the ACC.
Carolina will not resume its conference game until December 29 against Virginia Tech. By then, the Heels have four games, including a home game against the devious Furman, who won at Louisville in overtime last month; and the Las Vegas showdown against UCLA’s No.5 in the CBS Classic.
The Heels will likely come back in the top 25 polls after double-digit wins over the Wolverines and Yellow Jackets and unlike in the preseason they feel they have earned a right to be confident about it now.
Senior Leaky Black was the only roster to beat Georgia Tech before Sunday. Black said the Heels are “trying to prove a point to the country, not just to Georgia Tech.”
“That we are no longer a joke,” said Black, who was primarily responsible for keeping the nation’s top scorer, Michael DeVoe, to just 13 points. “I feel like we’ve been the laughing stock of college basketball for the past two years.”
Maybe not a laughing stock, but there has certainly been a drop in what has been a norm for Carolina basketball with a losing season in 2019-2020 and a first-round elimination from the NCAA Tournament la last season.
The signs were all there in the McCamish Lodge, that this is a different team. Carolina hit offensive heights shooting 54% from the field, 58% from 3 points (10 for 17) and having 21 assists out of 31 baskets made.
Four players scored in double digits, including Caleb Love, who scored 17 points, and Brady Manek, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
âI feel like when we play together we’re unstoppable,â said guard RJ Davis, who scored a high of 23 points. âThat’s what we did today, we shared the ball. Everyone had the opportunity.
The biggest improvement was defensively, where they held Michigan 51 points at a season low and one point to hold Georgia Tech at a season low tied at 61 points.
Black and Anthony Harris led their defensive effort with how they combined to keep DeVoe in check. He had shot 59% at 3 points, but Black and Harris limited him to 1 in 5 shooting from behind the arc.
DeVoe’s only mark came with a 25-footer that he shot in transition before Black could get into place. Hubert Davis said it was “difficult to find someone in the country who defended better than Leaky”.
âWe were stuck on the defensive end in training,â said Harris. “Just being aggressive, being physical, it plays a big part in not letting teams score, not letting them in their sets and not letting their best player get hot.”
The Heels are pretty hot right now after playing their two best games of the season. With the school in final exams, they won’t return to action until Saturday at home against Elon.
Bacot was not afraid that they would rust in the meantime. He said they can always refer to their losses in the Tipoff Hall of Fame as a reason to stay focused.
âLooking back and reflecting on some of the mistakes you made at the start of the season, especially the Mohegan Sun, it wasn’t a good feeling for us,â Bacot said. âSo knowing that there is a chance of losing and playing badly, we don’t want that to happen. So looking back and thinking about it, I feel like it will only keep the foot on the gas. “