UNC Basketball: Tar Heels hit century mark against WCU

CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 06: Brandon Huffman
CHAPEL HILL, NC - DECEMBER 06: Brandon Huffman /

Tar Heels and Catamounts play for the first time in 60 years

This was only the second basketball game ever between the Tar Heels and Catamounts. That’s kind of amazing considering North Carolina usually finds ways to play the teams in the state.

The last meeting was back in 1957 and ended with the Tar Heels winning 77-59. Lennie Rosenbluth had 26 points to lead all scorers in that game. If 1957 sounds familiar, it’s because that was the same year that UNC beat Kansas for it first NCAA Tournament title.

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Of course, this is the second time the Tar Heels and Catamounts have played this season, albeit the first matchup was in football. That game ended up being a 65-10 blowout win for North Carolina and this game almost matched that score in the first half.

The Game

The best play of the first half was a play that ended up not counting. With 2:40 left in the half, Joel Berry II stole the ball and ran down the court. Right as he approached the basket, Berry threw the ball behind to a trailing Theo Pinson who slammed it through with a two-hand dunk.

However, the play didn’t count as Berry was fouled right before the pass. Outside of that, the first half was marked by stellar defense and hot shooting, both by North Carolina.

UNC held Western Carolina to just 26 first half points as the Catamounts shot a paltry 27.3 percent from the floor. The Tar Heels forced nine turnovers as Western Carolina went scoreless for an eight-and-half-minute stretch during the first half.

On the other end, the Tar Heels scorched the nets. Led by the play of their stellar junior class, UNC shot 63 percent from the field, including 8-of-11 from downtown, on its way to 53 first half points.

Kenny Williams and Luke Maye led the way, going a combined 10-for-11 from the floor, as well as 5-of-5 from behind the arc, for 25 points. The Tar Heels finished the game with 16 three-pointers, their most since 2012 and a Roy Williams era record.


The second half opened with Garrison Brooks asserting his authority with two monster dunks to help increase the Tar Heels’ lead.

Outside of that, the second half was marked by  Maye’s sixth double-double of the season and the amount of playing time that the reserves got.

A game like this is a great opportunity to get valuable looks for the young bigs and guards and that will pay huge dividends later this season.

The only negative in this game for UNC was the turnovers, committing a season-high 17. Of course, that is what can happen when young guys play so much.

There was also an appearance from a friendly face in tonight’s game. Former Tar Heel Jackson Simmons is the director of basketball operations at Western Carolina and it was good to see him back in the Dean Dome, even if it was on the opposing team’s bench.

Player of the Game

Jalek Felton. Taking advantage of the extra time, Felton finished with a career-high 15 points against Western Carolina. Felton also was 4-of-4 from behind the arc, which was one more three-pointer than he had hit all season.

Notable Stat

83.8. That’s the percentage of made shots that UNC assisted on. The Tar Heels finished with 31 assists on 37 made baskets. Pinson led the way with seven, while both Maye and Felton had five a piece.

Next: Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Henderson reunite?

What’s Next

Up next for the Tar Heels is a long break as the team moves into the exam period. UNC gets 11 days off before they travel to play a ranked Tennessee squad on December 17th.