Now clearly in chase mode, UNC got off to its best start of the season against Florida State. Freshman Dontrez Styles was first off of the bench and had his most productive game as a Tar Heel with 8 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes of play. Styles gave multiple teases of the explosive jumping ability and athleticism that some that got to see him play in high school have been hoping to see in Chapel Hill. Kerwin Walton appears to be settling in and had another game of shooting without hesitation and even put the ball on the floor and got to the line. Walton continued his perfect shooting from the free throw line, score 9 points on 3-6 shooting and 2-4 from the three. Trusting the bench against FSU was a confidence building step in the right direction as bench play will be even more important and necessary as the season moves through the last month. Caleb Love played a good game overall with his best single game 3-point shooting but has to learn to stop the dribble drive and stop the bone-headed plays like the missed windmill dunk attempt on an uncontested fastbreak in the second half. Fortunately, Love bounced back on the next play by swishing a 3-pointer! Puff Johnson gets recognition for his play with five points on 2-4 shooting in 11 minutes of play and stepped in to draw a charge.
At 3:55 in the first half, UNC was shooting 74% from the floor, including 70% from the three. Everyone was fresh, active and aggressive in first half. Plus, we finally got to see the Carolina fast break! The team seemed to play with an urgency that’s been missing for much of the season. There was poor execution on the last play before halftime, but the early second half mostly delivered on execution, ball movement, and decision making.
RJ Davis is definitely the steadying presence and initiated much of the offense against FSU, but the rebound and push from Leaky Black and Styles helped keep the pace up throughout the game. With Armando Bacot giving his usual double-double, Brady Manek solid on both ends of the floor, and the players off the bench getting high grades, all deserve “Dean’s List” recognition with A’s today.