Rushed Reactions: #2 North Carolina 84, #15 Lipscomb 66

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on March 16th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) is in Charlotte this weekend.

Three Key Takeaways.

Joel Berry II and North Carolina struggled early but eventually cruised past Lipscomb.
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

  1. It took North Carolina awhile to get going but the game ended up like we thought it would. North Carolina did not look good for the first 16 minutes of this game. At that point, Lipscomb led the Tar Heels by two points and had outplayed them by forcing a number of turnovers (eight). But a 12-1 North Carolina run to close out the first half changed the game for good. Lipscomb never seriously threatened to make it a game again as North Carolina methodically pulled away. However, Roy Williams knows North Carolina can’t afford to play so poorly for another half in this NCAA Tournament or that will be the end of their dream of back-to-back National Championships.
  2. The Tar Heels got solid performances from their secondary players. For North Carolina to make it to San Antonio, the Tar Heels’ stars — Joel Berry, Luke Maye and Theo Pinson — must play well, obviously. But Roy Williams will also need major contributions from their supporting cast each game. Today, the Tar Heels got offensive production from Kenny Williams (a game-high 18 points) and Cam Johnson (12 points) as well as encouraging play from their young bigs. Sterling Manley took advantage of his size  to post six points and 10 boards, while fellow freshman Garrison Brooks tallied seven points on 2-of-3 shooting.
  3. Lipscomb acquitted itself well in its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bisons gave North Carolina all it could handle early, even holding a lead late into the first half. Lipscomb hurt the Tar Heels from three-point range, sinking four of its first eight attempts, but after that initial burst from deep, the Bisons missed their last nine tries of the first half. The smaller Lipscomb competed well on the boards too, holding the taller Tar Heels to just three offensive rebounds in the first half. In the end, North Carolina’s talent was just too much, however, for the Bisons.

Player of the Game. Theo Pinson, North CarolinaAs usual, Pinson did some of everything, scoring 15 points, snatching 10 rebounds, dishing seven assists and recording a block and a steal.

Quotable.

  • “We didn’t play well early, but we did late in the [first] half.” – North Carolina coach Roy Williams, on the first half.
  • “I can put pressure on opposing defenses.” –  Theo Pinson, on his ability to go coast-to-coast.
  • “Everybody knows it takes a magical performance for somebody like us to beat somebody like them.” – Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander, on the challenge his team faced today.

Sights and Sounds. As expected, North Carolina had a friendly crowd show out for the Tar Heels in Charlotte. Lipscomb’s contingent was small but extremely vocal as many of the Bisons’ faithful also made the trip east from Nashville to witness school history. Lipscomb’s sophomore guard Michael Buckland and Theo Pinson were high-school teammates in High Point, North Carolina. At Thursday’s press conference, Buckland acknowledged that he, “grew up a Carolina fan” and he described playing the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tourney as an awesome dream.

What’s Next. North Carolina advances to the Second Round on Sunday where it will meet #7 Texas A&M. The winner then moves on to the West Regional in Los Angeles.

Brad Jenkins (325 Posts)


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