Despite a rough start to the game, the Tar Heels managed to rally in the second half and secure a crucial win over the Fighting Irish. While their first half performance was dismal, with zero assists and no three-pointers made, the team came out of halftime with a newfound energy and sense of purpose.
Coach Hubert Davis must have given them a powerful pep talk, as they quickly reclaimed the lead with strong defense, smart passing, and a few key shots from Caleb Love and Armando Bacot.
In the end, it was the Tar Heels’ persistence on the offensive glass that secured their victory, as they scored three straight baskets on second-chance opportunities to take a one-point lead with just minutes left in the game.
Caleb Love sealed the deal with four clutch free throws. It was a much-needed win for the Tar Heels, who have struggled with consistency throughout the season.
Moving forward, the Tar Heels will need to focus on improving their teamwork and offensive efficiency if they hope to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Their lack of three-point shooting has been a major issue this season, as the Tar Heels are shooting just 29.9% from deep. Last year the team shot 35.8% from beyond the arc.
The poor outside shooting allows the defense to sag off, which in turn clogs the lane and makes it more difficult for Armondo Bacot to operate in the paint. In addition to the poor shooting, a lack of playing together also plagues this Tar Heels squad.
During the 2021 season Carolina ranked 64th of 363 with .206 assists per offensive possession. That number has dropped to .158 assists per possession in 2022, which ranks 319th of 363 teams.
Watching this Tar Heels team play is often very painful, especially for my wife who is a diehard fan and alum. Multiple 0 or 1 pass possessions with one player dribbling too much trying to create space while 4 guys stand around doing nothing. All to wind up taking a bad shot late in the shot clock. No teamwork in the open floor, and no real urgency to run the floor to capitalize in transition.
With a tough game against Virginia coming up, it will be important for Carolina to maintain their momentum and play with the same sense of urgency and purpose they displayed in the second half against Notre Dame. If they can do that, they may just have a shot at a tournament run.