UNC Basketball: Former Tar Heels face off in Monday night NBA action

A pair of former UNC basketball stars went head-to-head in NBA action on Monday night.

On Monday night, a pair of former UNC basketball standouts and fan favorites faced off in a matchup of top-five Western Conference teams.

Second-year Phoenix Suns wing Cameron Johnson and Portland Trail Blazers reserve small forward Nassir Little took the court in a reunion of 2018-19 Tar Heel teammates. Both players are very early on in their respective professional careers, and both have shown flashes of tremendous upside over the past year-plus.

In a battle for fourth-place in the Western Conference standings, it was Johnson’s Suns that got the 132-100 home victory over the Blazers thanks to a tremendous shooting performance and terrific ball control. Johnson played just 16 minutes off the Phoenix bench, but scored 13 points on an ultra-efficient 5-for-7 shooting performance. Johnson hit all three of his three-point attempts to go along with three rebounds and one steal, while not committing a single turnover.

For the season, Johnson is averaging 10.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 43.8 percent from the floor, and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc. He’s been in and out of the Suns’ starting lineup of late because of his lack of consistency over the past couple of months, but has put up double-digit scoring performances in two of his last three games.

In a losing effort, Little scored 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 3-of-6 from three-point range. He also knocked down 7-of-8 at the free throw line, while adding five rebounds, one steal and one block in just 16 minutes of play.

It was the most game play that Little has gotten since logging 17 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder last Tuesday, a game in which he scored 13 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting performance. Monday’s game also marked Little’s second-highest scoring output of the season. Thanks to a month of February in which Little has averaged 9.7 points and 2.3 rebounds, he’s increased his season averaged to 5.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Check back with Keeping It Heel for all the latest on Cameron Johnson and Nassir Little, as well as UNC basketball alumni throughout the NBA.