In another potential trap game before the start of ACC play, the North Carolina men’s basketball team took care of business against Tulane on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Green Wave 97-73.
Playing in the fourth arena in six games over the last 11 days, the Tar Heels had potential to come out sluggish for the afternoon matinee, but quickly ramped up the pace and got in a groove before the Green Wave could get into the game.
UNC opened the game on a 21-4 run, and then kept their foot on the gas the rest of the way, shooting 65.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc to spark their offensive performance.
On the other end of the court, Coach Roy Williams called the game his team’s best defensive performance of the season, holding the Green Wave to 37.7 percent shooting with good help defense, forcing Tulane into tough shots. A rebound margin of 45-26 helped UNC get out a break for easy transition buckets.
Here's three storylines to follow from the blowout.
The class of 2021 got an extended look as UNC stretched their lead, and they impressed in their additional minutes.
The three-headed forward group of Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley and Brandon Huffman combined for 23 point and 14 rebounds as a group. Huffman lead the way with nine points and six boards, both career highs, as well as a pair of #HuffSmashs in the first half.
In the backcourt, Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek both performed well. Felton set career highs in points (9) and assists (3), while only turning over the ball once and swatting a block as well. Platek was a perfect 3-3 from the field, including one three-pointer. He also snagged two boards and an assist.
"I think they are starting to get it, starting to understand how hard they have to play," junior Kenny Williams said of the freshmen. "And I think that's starting to show on the court."
Luke Maye for ACC POY
As one cameraman put it in the media room after the game, "another workman like performance for Luke Maye." The junior forward set a career high in a stat category for the third game in a row, this time in blocks with four, as he had his fifth 20-10 game of the season and seventh game with at least 20 points.
"It's not coaching, it's sweat," Coach Williams said. "Luke Maye has been willing to put in the sweat at the amount and the level that very few players have done and it's really helped."
At this point in the season, one shouldn't be surprised at the numbers Maye puts up each game. He's become more than a key cog in UNC's lineup. He might it's biggest star. And from Joel Berry II's perspective, it's time people stood up and recognized it.
"I'm just tired of everybody thinking it's a surprise," Berry said. "He's a basketball player. He's a good player for us and he's going to continue to give us games like this."
Today in "Oh my word" Dunks
Tulane's Melvin Frazier had one of the best dunks I've seen live early in the first half, when he beat Brandon Robinson off the dribble and Luke Maye made the unfortunate decision to try to jump and stop him.
It was a Tulane's best moment in a game the Green Wave would otherwise like to forget. And a dunk you're sure to see on highlight reels tonight and beyond.
Quote of the Day
"What do you think? He's 2-for-20."
Roy Williams, on whether he's had a conversation with Theo Pinson on shooting less three-pointers.
The Tar Heels take on Western Carolina on Wednesday in Chapel Hill, the last day of classes for students and the team's last game before the exam break. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.