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Three Up, Three Down: UNC

The Syracuse game this was not. Even though the Deacs fell by 15 in Chapel Hill, I'm honestly not as upset as one might think. UNC looks like a legitimate title contender, and while Wake Forest was outclassed, there were long stretches of play that, while not brilliant, were gritty, competitive, and encouraging.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

The Freshmen. To a man,, the Deacon newcomers had great performances.  Bryant Crawford was a floor general, racking up 18 points (5-16 shooting, 2-6 from deep, but a strong 6-7 from the line), 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal.  He had 3 turnovers, but that's still almost a 2:1 A/T ratio, and if I'm not mistaken, two of Bryant's TOs happened very early in the game.  John Collins was beastly, tallying 9 points (3-7 shooting, 3-4 from the line), 7 boards, a steal, 2 blocks, and generally good defense in 18 minutes.  Doral Moore, who is a monster, tallied 4 points on 2-2 shooting, 3 rebounds and a steal in 10 minutes.  Honestly, Doral is so big and so long that he's hard to physically contain.  Doral (and John, for that matter), were not going against no name bigs here.  This is UNC.  Just, truly, a good job by the young guys.

Minute Distributions. I really liked the minute distributions in this game.  John Collins played 18 minutes,  Doral Moore had 10 minutes.  Codi Miller-McIntyre had 30 minutes to Bryant Crawford's 32.  Konstantinos Mitoglou, who bless him, had a rough offensive night, played 16 minutes to Cornelius Hudson's 28.  From what I can recall (and bearing in mind that most of the first half wasn't able to be seen due to technical difficulties), CMM played a lot more in the first half and Bryant, who generally did a better job this game running the floor, really ran the show more in the second with heavier minutes for Collins, Hudson, and Moore.  It was perhaps too little too late, but Danny Manning seemed to figure something out in the second half and stuck with it.  I hope this sticks.

Containing Marcus Paige. The standout UNC point guard finished with only 2 points on 8 shots and 2 assists.  Admittedly, much of it seems to be Paige being "off" in general, but there's something to be said for the fact that Wake Forest wasn't responsible for Marcus Paige's comeback game.

The Downs

Offensive Rebounds. Wake Forest gave up 18 offensive rebounds and 19 second chance points.  That just cannot happen.  I will say this.  UNC is one of the best offensive teams in the country.  Their big man depth is insane.  They're going to get offensive rebounds.  I'm just bothered by the volume of the rebounds and how easily some of them were grabbed.  The team often needs to box out way more effectively than they actually do, and more often than not that's an effort problem.  Shooting percentage-wise, Wake actually did  a good job, especially late, holding the Tar Heels to 38% shooting, 17% from deep.  Those percentages matter less, though, when you factor in offensive rebounds, as well as the next thing I'm about to discuss.

Turnovers. 19 turnovers.  21 points for the Tar Heels off of said UNC turnovers.  It's borderline impossible to win any games with stats like that.  It doesn't matter how good your defensive percentages are in general, that's for sure,

Three Point Shooting. 2-18 from deep, and that extends to a streak of 4-38 the last two games.  That is atrocious.  I don't know what exactly is going on with our shooters, but something is most definitely amiss.  Now, many of them are not bad looks; our guys are often missing wide open, quality shots, often set up by effective ball movement.  We'd better hope they sort it out, and do so soon.

The Bottom Line

As I said, this was not the Syracuse game.  It was on the road, and in my opinion it was honestly a better showing, albeit not by a whole lot.  Things need to improve, they need to change.  But things like effective minute distribution (eventually, anyway). shining freshmen, and a general glimmer of competitive spirit that wasn't there in the Syracuse game left me nowhere near as angry or discouraged.  We're in a hole, and my hopes for this season are largely dashed, but I still think we're on the right track.  The agonizingly slow right track.

On to the next.  Go Deacs.