By Adam Lucas
1. Carolina averted a Thanksgiving disaster by outlasting Portland, 89-81. The Pilots used a versatile offense and assisted on 22 of 28 field goals to make for a much tighter game than anticipated. We thank RJ Davis.
2. Peter Nancy he showed a tendency early in his Carolina career to be streaked from the perimeter. He was consistently good on Thursday, hitting five of his eight three-point shots, several in important second-half moments. He had 20 key second-half points when the Tar Heels desperately needed them.
3. The offense was largely a Nance e Caleb Love production. The Tar Heel duo combined for 51 of Carolina’s points. They were helped in those final 20 minutes by nine second-half rebounds Armando Bacotto, with six of those arriving on the offensive glass. Those backboards were part of the Tar Heels’ first dominant effort on the glass this season, as they held a 37-22 lead.
4. Thursday’s match went very strangely. Carolina raced to an 18-8 lead but then saw that bulge melt away when Hubert Davis he started using his bench. And if it is true that the reserves were not productive in those first 20 minutes (a D’Marco Dunn three were the only points on the UNC bench in that span, as they trailed Portland 13-3 in that league), two other things are also true: The Tar Heels need to find reliable backups, and they play five away games in the span of a period of time or 11 days. The final score on the bench was a whopping 25-3 in favor of the Pilots. D’Marco Dunn, Puff Johnson And Tyler Nickel they were the only reserves to play in the second half, accumulating five minutes between them.
5. Love’s 23 points pushed him over 1,000 points, giving him 1,020 for his career. That makes him the 80th Tar Heel to surpass 1,000, the most such scorers in college basketball. Louisville has the second-most 1,000-point club members, with 69. Love easily overtook the mark in the first half, when his 16 points were largely why the Tar Heels held a 40-point lead. 38 at halftime. The youngster scored or assisted on 10 of Carolina’s 16 first half field goals and a very busy Love also had all three of Carolina’s first half steals.
6. Tyler Robertson was one of the key parts of Portland’s offense to start the season, leading the team in scoring with 17.5 points per game. Leaky black he gave him defensive duty on Thanksgiving and was very effective in the first half, limiting Robertson to just one field goal attempt. The shooter was slightly better in the second half, hitting four of his 11 shots. Most importantly, Carolina kept him off the free throw line, where he attempted 24 tries in a game against Portland State earlier this season.
7. Carolina was a good free throw team last season plus, but the charity streak was a problem on Thursday. The Tar Heels missed five straight free throws in a key stretch late in the second half, which helped keep the Pilots close. Armando Bacotto he finally broke the streak by sinking the second of two attempts that came out of a timeout. Carolina finished a meager 13-22 from the line (59.1%).
8. Bacot’s double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds tied Antawn Jamison with 51 in his Carolina career, second most for a Tar Heel ever. Billy Cunningham leads that category with 60.
9. The 10am local time required some changes to the usual Tar Heel basketball pre-game routine. The schedule typically calls for a pre-game meal four hours before the tip-off, but a 6:00 breakfast didn’t sound very appealing to college students, so it was changed to 7:00. Remember that Carolina’s game against Baylor last year in the NCAA Tournament started at 11:00, so the Heels have a recent history with previous starts. This, however, was the earliest start anyone in the program’s history could remember.
10. As you would expect, there was a lot of Nike-related festivities surrounding the event. All teams attended a Wednesday night function on the Nike campus that included a behind-the-scenes campus tour, commentary from some key basketball figures including Roy Williams.
11. Williams was, of course, also in attendance at the Moda Center on Thursday. This led to a steady procession of image seekers in the half hour before the match. The life of a semi-public figure is never normal; she imagines posing for dozens of selfies with strangers before 10am on Thanksgiving.
12. Carolina now awaits the winner of Villanova-Iowa State to find out who he will play against tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. Eastern). In any case, the last meeting will not have been pleasant. Carolina’s last meeting with Iowa State was a last second 85-83 loss in the NCAA Tournament in 2013. The last meeting with Villanova was in the 2016 NCAA Championship game, and we won’t talk about that.
13. That 5:30 p.m. East Coast start time sets up a busy day for Carolina athletics. Tar Heel football, of course, hosts NC State at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, a game that will be televised on all the usual Tar Heel Sports Network outlets. The THSN broadcast of the basketball game will be available through the Varsity app, GoHeels website and app, and on 102.5 FM locally.