After being forced to play at a slower pace than they would prefer in Friday’s win over North Carolina Central, No. 6 North Carolina performed far better offensively Sunday in their 103-59 beating of Robert Morris. Unlike Friday night the Tar Heels didn’t settle offensively, working the ball inside consistently against the Robert Morris zone, and that approach paid off in a big way for Roy Williams’ team.
Sixty of North Carolina’s 103 points were scored in the paint, with Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks being the chief beneficiaries of the Tar Heels’ improved approach. Johnson finished the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists, with Meeks adding 21 to go along with 12 rebounds. North Carolina shared the basketball and they were “greedy” offensively for most of the night, refusing to fall into the trap of looking to shoot RMU out of its zone.
In total 29 of North Carolina’s 36 made field goals were assisted, with the percentage (80.6%) being higher than any assist percentage produced in a game last season (UNC assisted on 70 percent or more of its baskets in just three games in 2013-14). J.P. Tokoto scored just five points, but he paced the Tar Heels with a career-high ten assists.
Perimeter shooting remains a concern for North Carolina at this early point in the season, as the Heels shot just 4-for-16 from deep with players other than Marcus Paige combining to shoot 1-for-11. But unlike last season, when finding shooting from players other than Paige was a major issue, the Tar Heels are more capable of hurting teams in the paint.
Both Meeks and Johnson are better equipped to impact games offensively than they were a season ago, with the former losing weight and the latter gaining it. Obviously they’ll see tougher competition in the coming weeks, but Sunday night’s performance is a step in the right direction for those two.