8 Things From UNC’s Win Over Davidson
by R.L. Bynum
CHARLOTTE — It seems like every day of the Carolina basketball season is Maye Day.
And, playing near his home in Huntersville, it was like that again with Luke Maye putting up a double-double by halftime on his way to 24 points and 17 rebounds in an 85–75 victory over Davidson.
He scored inside and outside, rebounded and made savvy plays, such throwing a ball off a Wildcats defender as he was falling out of bounds to help UNC keep possession in the second half. His six games with 20 or more points have him tied for the ACC lead with Duke’s Marvin Bagley III.
“It’s definitely great to be back home and be back where I grew up watching the Hornets games and going to Davidson games and having so many friends in the stands,” Maye said. “But it was just another game and I just went out there and played as hard as I can.”
What is making the Tar Heels even more dangerous is that Joel Berry is really finding his groove offensively in recent games. He followed up a 17-point game against Michigan with 27 points Friday, making all seven free-throw attempts and four 3-pointers.
He scared Carolina fans when he had to go back in the tunnel in the second half with an apparent injury. It turned out that he bumped knees with a Davidson player but he was fine.
More chances for Robinson, Platek
With Seventh Woods in a walking boot as he battles plantar fasciitis, there was more playing time for Brandon Robinson and Andrew Platek.
Expect more of the same since it’s likely that Woods won’t play in home games Sunday against Tulane or Wednesday against Western Carolina. With a long break after that, he’s expected to be ready for the Dec. 17 game at Tennessee.
Robinson took advantage with a career-high eight points (all in the first half; his previous best was seven against Long Beach State more than a year ago), scrambling for loose balls and displaying scrappy play to show he deserves to stay on the court.
“He’s aggressive attacking the basket because I was so ticked off at his 3-point shot,” said Coach Roy Williams, who tore into Robinson during a time out in the Michigan game.
Robinson got the message.
“He just got onto me about not taking care of the ball,” said Robinson, who also had two rebounds and an assist in 13 minutes. “He got on me pretty bad. After the [Michigan] game he told me he only did it because he wanted to make me a better player and he believed in me.
“I just wanted to come into this game and step up and accept the challenge that he put forth for me. I felt like I did some good things, I just need to keep improving,” Robinson said
Platek’s offensive numbers weren’t impressive, but he was a pest on defense and pulled down three rebounds in 13 minutes.
Small solutions to defend 3-pointers?
Trying anything to stop Davidson’s 3-point production, Coach Roy Williams went to a very small lineup for a few minutes in the second half, with Maye at the five. With him were Theo Pinson, Robinson, Platek and Berry.
For the game, Davidson made 14 3s but attempted 33.
A lot of Davidson’s success was because they were making quick passes, and the smaller lineup helped UNC better keep up with the ball movement. The Wildcats didn’t make a 3-pointer for seven minutes, much of it against a small lineup. There were matchup issues at times, such as 6-8 Payton Aldridge posting up 6-5 Robinson.
There also was a stretch with Kenny Williams in instead of Platek and Manley as the only big man.
Good-bye Theo the 3-point shooter, hello Theo the slasher?
Roy Williams said recently that Pinson needs to make better decisions, and he was talking about perimeter shooting. Pinson was 2 of 20 from 3-point range going into the Davidson game and neither number changed Friday night.
“I thought Theo was huge,” Roy Williams said. “He turned down two straight 3s because he hasn’t shot well and took it to the basket and made an old-time 3-point play one time and another basket the other time.”
There was one instance in the Michigan game Williams had pointed out to Pinson. He had a wide-open lane to drive but instead took a 3-point attempt. He made a different decision in that situation Friday.
“It felt like it was the same exact play and I got it,” Pinson said. “I literally thought about it. I said, uh, and I saw nobody was near me, and I said, ‘I’ll take it and go to the rim and I finished it.’ You can tell, me and coach, we had a little glance back because we stared at each other during the time out. It’s like, dang that was the same play. A cool moment.”
Here’s that play from Friday night:
Pinson finished with 6 points/6 rebounds/5 assists (@davidrallenjr)
He only took 4 shots, here is that lovely finish after the shot fake from 3. pic.twitter.com/PFcKuSNI1X
— Dadgum Box Scores (@dadgumboxscores) December 2, 2017
Pinson finished with six points, five assists and six rebounds by slashing and passing more to better maximize his skills since his shot hasn’t been falling.
“I play my best when I slash, so I tried to be more aggressive as far as getting to the cup,” said Pinson, who insists that if he’s open, he’ll still try a 3-pointer and that Coach Williams hasn’t told him not to attempt 3s.
“He just said, ‘shot selection,’ ” Pinson said. “Don’t go out there shooting 5 or 6 3s, which he’s right. So I’m just going to try to do my thing and get to the basket. Right now, my shot’s not going in and when they give me angles to attack, that’s what I do best, so I’m going to take those opportunities.”
An NBA-like Carolina schedule
It was fitting that Carolina played in an NBA arena for the third time in eight days. The Tar Heels have been playing an NBA-type schedule.
When UNC plays at home Sunday against Tulane, it will mark its seventh game in 14 days compared to only six games in that span by the Charlotte Hornets, the team that usually plays in the Cable Company Sponsored Center (hey, it doesn’t carry SportsChannel 8, so why give it a plug?)
In those 14 days, UNC has never had more than two days of rest between games and has played on consecutive nights once. During those 14 days, the Hornets did play three games with only one day of rest and on back-to-back nights once. But, unlike Carolina, they got three days’ rest between games on one occasion.
“That schedule is probably a little more challenging that I should have made it,” Coach Williams admitted.
After getting two days of rest between the Tulane game and Wednesday’s Western Carolina game, UNC’s whirlwind schedule finally relents just in time for final exams: They’ll get 10 days to rest before visiting Tennessee on Dec. 17.
The first of many punchy signs?
You knew when Joel Berry broke his right hand punching a door in frustration after an NBA 2K loss to Theo Pinson and one of the managers that he would hear about it on the road.
In a preview of what will be likely more creative signs and treatment on the road this season, a Davidson student wanted to try his NBA 2K talents against Berry. His sign: “Hey Joel, play me in 2K.”
Not a bad start, but you can count on the Cameron Crazies to come up with even more creative references when the Tar Heels visit Durham.
Charlotte didn’t feel like home
This was a Davidson home game, so the Wildcats’ mascot, band and cheerleaders were there. There was no such representation from North Carolina.
The majority of the lower-arena fans were clad in Davidson red, with most of the upper-arena fans in Carolina blue.
None of this could muffle loud LUUUKE yells many times.
How history may have been different
Had Luke Maye chosen Davidson over UNC, the Wildcats would be up 58-54 instead of the other way around.
Had Charlie Scott chosen Davidson over UNC, we'd be watching this game in the Lefty Dome.
— Ed Hardin (@Ed_Hardin) December 2, 2017