Lucas: Rapid Reactions – University of North Carolina Athletics

By Adam Lucas

1. Carolina dominated every category on the way to a 101-40 win over Johnson C. Smith in Friday night’s exhibition game. The Tar Heels held a 59-25 edge on the glass, won second chance points 18-0, and outscored JCSU 46-12 in the paint. In a stat Hubert Davis is sure to love, the Heels also had 23 assists (to three for the visitors) on 39 field goals. 

2. Keep in mind the Tar Heels had a dramatic size and talent difference against Johnson C. Smith. It’s unlikely they’re going to control the boards and flow of the game as completely as they did on Friday night. But there were still a few points to watch.

3. Hubert Davis has been emphasizing sharing the ball to Caleb Love. It showed during Friday night’s game, as Love consistently drove with an eye for his teammates, racking up five assists in the first half alone. Not coincidentally, that also created some openings for his shot. Love led the Tar Heels with 20 points, but also had eight assists.

4. Armando Bacot is Armando Bacot, no matter who the opponent is, what day the game is, what the weather is outside, or any other variable. Bacot–who has made no secret of chasing a few Tar Heel records this year–had a double-double in the first half alone. He finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds, and that’s not likely to be the last time he sees 20+ in that category this season.

5. Some absences meant that D’Marco Dunn got a start. While he didn’t put up huge numbers, it was impressive that he didn’t try to make too much of the opportunity by hunting his shot. His best play was a drive and kick to Love for a three-pointer in the first half. Dunn then knocked in a couple of jumpers in the second half and finished with a solid nine points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.

6. Some thoughts on the UNC newcomers: Seth Trimble (one of four Tar Heels in double figures with 11 points) isn’t scared to go to the basket against anyone. He also has the chance to be a very good defender and even drew a second half charge. Tyler Nickel is open when he has his uniform on, and has earned the green light designation from the coaching staff. Against Johnson C. Smith’s zone, the Tar Heels did a good job of throwing over it and finding players like Nickel (nine points in 15 minutes) for open jumpers. And Pete Nance was very efficient around the basket, quietly putting up 19 points (seven for eight on two-point shots) to go with six rebounds.

7. Great to finally see Will Shaver get some run against an opponent other than the Tar Heels. Shaver has worked hard since enrolling in January, battling with Armando Bacot every day in practice. That second half blocked shot had to feel good.

8. Great halftime recognition for the 1997 and 1998 teams. Ademola Okulaja’s brother, Adekola, was on hand and received a warm hand from the crowd and from numerous teammates from those two Final Four teams. Vince Carter’s flight was delayed and he missed the halftime ceremony, but he eventually made it to Chapel Hill in time to see his teammates during the second half.

9. Reminder if you’re coming to the Smith Center for the first time this year (or bringing your kids to their first game): the Tar Heels have started a new program in which first-time attendees get a certificate commemorating their first Carolina game. The certificates can be picked up at guest services across from section 125.

10. Carolina played without four potential regulars: RJ Davis, Puff Johnson, Justin McKoy and Jalen Washington. It has already been announced that Davis will indeed play in the season opener against UNC-Wilmington.

11. There was another debut on Friday night: Jackie Manuel coached his first game as Carolina’s junior varsity coach. The JV program, returning after a Covid-induced hiatus, got a season-opening win over a Voyager Academy squad coached by Tar Heel alum (and former Manuel teammate) Melvin Scott.

12. Biscuits! Creighton Lebo drew a charge that enabled the Heels to get one more possession, and then Duwe Farris and Rob Landry converted three of four free throws in the final seconds to cross the century mark. (The biscuit promotion doesn’t actually run during exhibition games. It was still fun.)

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