Chapel Hill, N.C.
In their only exhibition game of the 2023-24 preseason, 19th-ranked North Carolina dominated Saint Augustine’s with senior guard RJ Davis scoring 17 points in the first six minutes. The Tar Heels easily secured a victory with a final score of 117-53 at the Smith Center on Friday night.
In the first half, Davis scored 20 points with an impressive 7 out of 8 shots made, including 5 three-pointers out of 6 attempts. However, his performance dropped in the second half, but he still managed to end the game with a total of 22 points, 5 three-pointers, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists.
In the beginning of the game, Harrison Ingram, a junior transfer, joined Davis in having a strong performance. He scored 14 points by making 5 out of 7 shots (including 2 out of 3 three-pointers), grabbed five rebounds, and blocked a shot in the first half. Throughout the game, Ingram had a well-rounded performance with a total of 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three blocked shots.
Seven players from Carolina scored more than 10 points each, with Davis leading the game with 22 points. Ingram had 16 points, Jalen Washington had 14, Armando Bacot had 13, Creighton Lebo had 11, and Zayden High and Cormac Ryan both had 10 points.
On Friday, the Tar Heels had a 45.7 percent success rate with 16 out of 35 three-point shots, a significant improvement from their last place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference where they only shot 31.2 percent from beyond the arc.
According to the preseason polls from the Associated Press and coaches, the Tar Heels were ranked 19th and 21st respectively. They dominated the game from beginning to end, with their lead reaching a maximum of 39 points in the first half and 64 points in the last minute of the game.
Instead of playing at a slower pace like last year, the Tar Heels focused on playing faster during the preseason. As a result, they quickly gained a lead of 25 points in fast break opportunities and dominated with 52 points in the paint compared to SAU’s 14 points. Carolina’s 52 points in the paint were almost equal to SAU’s total score of 53.
Davis explained that the team’s pace is crucial and their focus has been on returning to a speedy “Carolina pace.” They achieved 25 fast break points, which is a testament to Coach Davis and the coaching staff’s emphasis on quick movement. The team’s main goal is to prioritize running rather than relying on set plays. They aim to score layups, which they successfully accomplished.
During his postgame press conference, head coach Hubert Davis stated that he wouldn’t describe tonight’s game as “old Carolina Basketball,” but rather just Carolina Basketball. He emphasized the importance of playing with intensity, intelligence, and as a cohesive team. Davis felt that the team exemplified these qualities in tonight’s game and also had a good time doing so.
How It Happened
Davis was responsible for all eight points, which led to Carolina taking an 8-0 lead in under two minutes. This prompted a timeout from the Falcons at the 18:18 mark of the first half. Davis continued to dominate, scoring 17 out of Carolina’s first 24 points, helping the Tar Heels establish a comfortable 24-6 lead.
Carolina started off strong, making 8 out of 10 and 14 out of 20 shots from the field in the first half. They ended up shooting 61 percent as a team, making 22 out of 36 shots.
In the first half, North Carolina’s team, the Tar Heels, had a strong performance from the three-point line, making 10 out of their first 17 attempts and shooting at a 56% success rate.
In the second half, Carolina’s overall shooting percentage dropped to 35.3 percent from three-point range, despite shooting at 50 percent overall.
• Lebo, a senior walk-on, had a career night, all in the second half. He hit 4 of 5 shots and 3 of 4 three-point tries for 11 points in 15 minutes.
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The Box Score Breakdown
The box score provides a numerical overview of a basketball match.
“UNC made 10 out of 18 three-point attempts in the first half, shooting at a 55.6% success rate. They finished the game with a 45.7% success rate, making 16 out of 35 attempts from beyond the arc.”
Both Seth Trimble and Jae’Lyn Withers, both from the Tar Heel sophomore guard, were unable to play in the game due to injuries. Trimble had a protective boot on his left foot while sitting on the bench during the game.
At the 16:45 mark of the first half, freshmen Elliot Cadeau and High both entered the game for their first time.
• Cadeau, the ACC Preseason Rookie of the Year, recorded seven points, three rebounds and four assists, highlighted by a driving dunk down the right side of the lane in the second half.
High recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, along with three blocked shots, which was the most in the game.
Bacot, who was named to the preseason first-team All-America, recorded 13 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in only 21 minutes.
Ryan, who had previously played for Stanford and Notre Dame against the Tar Heels at the Smith Center, made his third appearance in a different uniform during the game. He started off strong, hitting his first three-pointer before being forced to leave the game in the first half due to an ankle injury caused by stepping on his teammate Paxson Wojcik’s ankle. Despite this, Ryan managed to score 10 points in just 14 minutes.
Carolina dominated SAU on the boards with a 62-25 advantage and held the Falcons to a shooting percentage of 26.6%.
Marcus Ginyard, a former NCAA champion from Tar Heel, was the color analyst for the live stream of the game on ACCNX. Another former Tar Heel, Pete Chilcutt, served as an analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Dave Nathan on the Tar Heel Sports Network. Jones Angell, the regular radio play-by-play announcer, was absent from the game as he was with the UNC football team in Atlanta.
The regular season for UNC will kick off on Monday, November 6 with a home game against Radford. Tickets are currently on sale.