Busting Brackets

North Carolina Basketball: 3 takeaways from victory over UNLV

North Carolina Basketball (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
North Carolina Basketball (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

North Carolina Basketball walked away with a 78-51 win over the UNLV Running Rebels in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

Coming off the most disappointing season in the Roy Williams era, North Carolina Basketball looked to scrap together enough pieces to get back on top of the college basketball world. With a loaded 2020 recruiting class, and arguably the most talented frontcourt in all of college basketball, the Tarheels are slowly climbing back up to the top of the ranking, right where they belong.

Roy Williams was able to piece together one of his better-recruiting classes with his 2020 class. He brought home a trio of 5 stars in Caleb Love, Walker Kessler, and Day’Ron Sharpe to go along with three 4 star players in R.J Davis, Puff Johnson, and Kerwin Walton. These talented freshmen combined with sophomore big Armando Bacot, and Pre-Season All American Garrison Brooks, look to be a team with the potential to be one of the better teams in all of college basketball.

The Tar Heels opened up the Maui Invitational by taking on T.J Otzelberger and UNLV Running Rebels in the opening round. After the Rebels jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead to begin the game, the Heels were able to settle down and take over the game in the second half. North Carolina walked away 78-51 to go to the next round of the tournament. Here are 3 takeaways from North Carolina in their win over the UNLV Running Rebels.

Growing Pains

Very rarely do we find freshman enter the college basketball world and find success immediately, and with this Tarheel squad, we are seeing lots of growing pains early on with this freshman class.

The Tarheels hold a handful of talented freshman that are all looking to have big roles for Roy Williams and his squad. Led by a freshman backcourt in Caleb Love and R.J Davis, the Tarheels let their inexperience show in the opening round matchup against UNLV.

The Tarheels had 16 turnovers against the Running Rebels, three of which came from star freshman point guard Caleb Love. Love is the centerpiece in this freshman class, and the success of the Tarheels will be determined by the play of Love. He finished the game with just 6.

Points on 2-9 shooting in the win. It’s still early in the season for Love, the freshman is still adjusting to the speed of the college game. With time and the help of Roy Williams, look for Caleb Love to shine in the upcoming Maui Invitation games.

Big Man U

In a world where small-ball has taken over basketball, Roy Williams holds a different approach to this season. Very rarely do you find a team that has two solid centers on the roster,  but with this 2020-2021 Tarheel squad, you have four big-time centers in Garrison Brooks, Armando Bacot, Walker Kessler, and,  Day’Ron Sharpe.

In the first two games of the season, Roy Williams has played all 4 of his big men. He starts senior pre-season All American Garrison Brooks along with sophomore Armando Bacot. But then in his first substitutions, he subs in Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe to play together. It’s still early to say, but in the first couple of games this season, his big-man rotation has worked to perfection.

Each of these big men brings a different aspect to the game, but they also complement each other’s strengths. Garrison Brooks will be the consistent go-to big man for the Tar Heels,  but the other 3 young big men all have the potential to step up and take over the game if Brooks is struggling to score down low.

Roy Willaims is ditching the small-ball strategy and is going big this season with his 4 talented big men. Let the big dogs eat.

Shooting Woes?

In the 2019-2020 season, North Carolina had their worst three-point season in school history. The Tarheels shot just 30% from deep, 313th in the country last season. Shooting that poorly isn’t going to win you many games,  and that was the case for the Heels last season. It’s a new year, and in the victory over UNLV on Monday, we saw a little life from the three-point line from the Heels.

North Carolina only knocked down 7 threes in the win over UNLV, but they only took 20 shots from deep. You would like to see a few more threes made, but it is an improvement from last season. The freshman backcourt looks to help the Tarheels shooting problems. R.J Davis looks to be the best shooter as he knocked down a trio of three-pointers in the win. Caleb Love has struggled shooting from deep. early this season,  but he has proven to be a good shooter in high school.

Next. UNC 2020-21 season preview. dark

The Tarheels’ biggest question relies on the play of senior guard Andrew Platek. Platek has struggled shooting the ball in his Tarheel career but knocked down a pair of a triple on Monday. If North Carolina can get Platek’s confidence going, he could be a very important piece off the bench for Roy Williams.