UNC Tar Heels basketball: Georgia Tech preview

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
UNC basketball coach Roy Williams (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The 8-5 UNC Tar Heels look to win their third-straight basketball game tonight when they host 6-7 Georgia Tech at the Dean Dome.

UNC basketball is 4-2 at home this year while Georgia Tech is 2-3 on the road. Both teams have had a disappointing first half of the season, finding themselves towards the bottom of the ACC standings. The Tar Heels continues to be without star guard Cole Anthony, while the Yellow Jackets are led by emerging sophomore guard Michael Devoe. With each team playing their first game in 2020, both squads have an opportunity to flip the script in the new year.

The Tar Heels must follow three keys in order to win tonight.

The first is to not settle for a bad shot. Through 13 games, many fans have been irate with the team’s 29% three-point shooting. UNC ranks 305th in the country and ninth in the conference, struggling mightily at a time when the three ball has become the pinnacle of college basketball. More ball movement with the inside-out type of play could allow for better looks rather than waiting until the shot clock winds down to jack up a contested shot. Against Yale, the Heels went 6-19 from deep; however, luckily for them, Yale was even worse, going 8-27 from behind the arc.

The second key is continuing the dominate the rebounding battle. One of Carolina’s lone bright spots this season has come from fighting on the glass, where they rank 24th in the country in total rebounds and sixth in the ACC. In particular, offensive rebounding has helped keep the Heels in games despite their poor shooting performances, thanks in large part due to dynamic big men Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot. More rebounds equal more opportunities and with more teams looking to get back on transition, Carolina’s attack on the boards are a true highlight for the Tar Heels this season.

The third and final key is simply passing the ball more effectively. Passing this season hasn’t been pretty, and hasn’t helped the Heels’ 319th-ranking field-goal percentage. They rank 220th in assists, which explains much of the frustration coming from fans seeing players just dribble it around all game. Once again, more ball movement can open up more opportunity for the Heels to take the easier shots.

On top of the offensive woes, injuries haven’t helped UNC’s case this season.

The injury bug has been bit the Tar Heels all season with Brandon Robinson missing four games, Bacot missed the Ohio State game, and Leaky Black and Andrew Platek have also missed games. More than anyone though, the loss of NBA draft prospect Cole Anthony, who has missed the last four, and remains out, has drastically hurt the Heels. On top of that, Anthony Harris was recently announced to have torn his ACL. Thankfully for Williams and UNC, they are currently in the midst of a stretch of winnable games, and get a chance to keep the win-streak alive against Georgia Tech tonight. Expect Carolina to have the Yellow Jackets on the ropes early, winning by a final score of 76-64.