With the conference regular season over and another three conference games in the books, what can we take away from the Tar Heels play during that time?
In case you missed it, UNC beat Duke on Senior night.
Not only did the win give the Tar Heels an undefeated season at home, it also ended the ACC season.
Last time we looked at Carolina’s good three point defense, the bad nature of Isaiah Hicks fouling, and the ugly way Luke Maye runs in transition.
In the past three games, things have been a bit of the same. Teams shot a combined 23-of-65 from behind the three point arc.
Though not as good as the 23 percent arc from the previous three games, 35 percent is still better than the 42 percent they allowed back the last time they faced the Blue Devils.
Unfortunately, the Isaiah Hicks foul troubles also continued. The Senior forward picked up 11 fouls in three games. Nine of those came in his first two, where he finished with just 10 points and nine rebounds.
Thankfully, in his last game against Duke, he only had two fouls and finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes.
Finally, the Luke Maye in transition thing, didn’t seem to rear its ugly head. In fact against Duke he had a nice cut to the basket on a Justin Jackson assist. The play ended in a lay-up for Maye and was part of an 8-2 run by the Tar Heels. Not saying this is fixed, but it hasn’t been nearly as noticeable.
So with that all worked out, let’s push out the old and bring in the new. What is the latest Good, Bad, and Ugly for the Tar Heels as they enter ACC tournament play?
Joel Berry II. Honestly I am not sure where the Tar Heels would be without Joel Berry II over these past three games.
The junior point guard was the only player to score in double figures in all three games. He finished with 59 points. The next closest Tar Heel, Justin Jackson, had 45.
Berry was also good from the three-point line. He shot 11-of-18 from behind the arc good for 61 percent.
The rest of the team combined shot 9-of-39 from downtown, for a not so stellar 23 percent.
Berry topped it all off with five assists and 11 rebounds during that stretch. He also got to the line 13 times, knocking down nine of his attempts.
The Tar Heels may have gone 2-1, but without Berry 1-2 might have been their best hope.
Justin Jackson. It is hard to ever say a player who is going to be first team All-ACC, in line for ACC player of the year, and on the short list for the Wooden Award is bad, but Jackson was not great these past three games.
The Junior forward scored only 45 points of 18-of-47 shooting, good for only 38 percent from the line. Most of that was helped out by the Pitt game where he scored 23.
Take out the game against the Panthers and Jackson scored 22 points on 9-of-27 shooting for a lousy 33 percent.
He also was not hitting it from downtown. Jackson shot 7-24 from behind the arc. Again that number was buoyed by the Pitt game. In his last two games Jackson shot 2-13 for a 15 percent clip from three-point land.
Jackson also didn’t help himself out by trying to get points from the line. He shot only three free throws total in all three games, and all of those came in the win over Duke.
Jackson wasn’t a complete drain though. While not being an offensive force, except for the Pitt game, Jackson found other ways to contribute. He finished this three game stretch with 12 rebounds and eight assists.
The Virginia game. The Tar Heels have not been perfect this season and the Virginia game summarized the entire ugliness of the season.
First there was the total 43 points scored, a number the Tar Heels beat in the first half against Duke and nearly matched in the first half against Pitt.
Second there was the shooting.
The Tar Heels shot 35 percent, missed 31 shots, and had only one player shoot better than 50 percent, Tony Bradley who went 4-for-6. The Cavaliers meanwhile shot a blistering 42 percent from behind the arc compared to the Tar Heels chilling 25 percent from downtown.
Third the turnovers.
The Tar Heels finished with 14 turnovers compared to only 12 assists. Twelve of those turnovers came in the first half and led to 18 points for the Cavaliers. Additionally the Tar Heels only forced the Cavaliers into four turnovers for the game and allowed Virginia to get 15 assists.
The only positive of the game was that the Tar Heels played decent defense. Three point shooting aside, Carolina forced Virginia to miss 40 shots as they shot worst from the field than the Tar Heels did. However the Cavaliers also pulled down three more offensive rebounds than UNC, helping to keep possessions alive.
Again the Tar Heels went 2-1 during this stretch and beat rival Duke. All in all not too bad, especially since they also won the conference by two games and are in line for a one seed in the NCAA tournament.
However, if the Tar Heels want to avoid another season of Heartbreak Ridge they will need to make sure the Virginia game was just an anomaly.
Otherwise they may find themselves unforgiven with their fan base who want another banner in the rafters.