CHAPEL HILL — No. 5 North Carolina defeated Nicholls 99-49 here at the Smith Center on Monday night. A look back at the Tar Heels’ dominant victory:
Why the Tar Heels won: The outcome was never in doubt but, even so, UNC coach Roy Williams spent a good portion of the game angry at his players’ lack of intensity. He removed his starters three minutes into the second half, and then reinserted them into the game about five minutes later. They apparently got the message. From there, the Heels went on a 16-1 run and played by far their best stretch of the game. Williams liked that stretch, but there was a lot he didn’t like.
The good: UNC dominated on the interior, and outscored Nicholls 56-30 in the paint. The Tar Heels also grabbed 31 offensive rebounds, most ever for a UNC team coached by Williams. The 31 offensive boards were also the second-most in school history. Reggie Bullock, the sophomore guard, finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds – his first collegiate double-double. And 11 UNC players received at least nine minutes of playing time, so starters were able to rest.
The bad: Why did UNC have so many offensive rebounds? Because the Tar Heels missed a lot of shots. They shot 43.5 percent, and made just 4 of their 19 3-point attempts. Free-throw shooting was again a problem area, as it has been in some other games this season. UNC was an abysmal 7 of 21 from the line during the first half, and finished 21 of 41 overall. Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall were a combined 0-for-6. And the intensity level just wasn’t there for large portions of the game. The Heels appeared to be going through the motions during the first half, though the starters finally awoke when Williams benched them early in the second half.
Key stat: The 56-30 edge that UNC had in the paint explains the story of this game. The Tar Heels, as expected, were far too much for Nicholls to handle on the inside.
Key stat II: 16-1. That was the run that the Heels went on after the starters reentered the game with less than 12 minutes to play. It was a fun stretch to watch, too, with the Heels making a lot of defensive plays and getting out for easy points in transition.
UNC player of the game: Reggie Bullock didn’t shoot particularly well – he made only 2 of his 8 3-point attempts – but he finished with a double-double in only 19 minutes. That’s pretty good efficiency. Bullock’s confidence continues to grow.
Quotable: “For us to be the team we want to be, we have to be willing to invest and have to do it on game night, and not just talk about it. And I did not get this team ready to play this game. And that was just bad coaching on my part. We weren’t focused. We weren’t ready to play and it’s my fault to make sure that those guys don’t do that.” –UNC coach Roy Williams