As North Carolina’s offense has cycled through various stages, the Tar Heels have been gaining confidence in their defense.
It’s a turnaround from just a few weeks ago, and it will be put to the test when North Carolina hosts Furman on Tuesday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina (7-2) has a four-game winning streak overall and is 5-0 at home after thwarting Elon on Saturday night.
“We’ve been more active on the defensive end, which has allowed us and put us in positions to get steals and deflections,” Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said. “And then also how you get out in transition when a team misses. And so over the last two and a half weeks, our defense has been better.”
It might have to be against the Paladins. Furman (7-3) has scored 80 or more points in seven games, though it has been aided in that category by extra minutes because of overtime games.
In addition to the season-low 39-percent shooting from the field on Saturday, North Carolina has issues to sort out on offense based on a startling ratio from the 80-63 defeat of Elon.
“For us to only have 11 assists and for us to have 16 turnovers, that was disappointing on the offensive end,” Davis said.
The most consistent player on offense for the Tar Heels has been Caleb Love, who has reached the 22-point mark in four games.
Furman last played Friday, topping visiting Appalachian State 73-65.
“Our defense, statistically, is not where it needs to be,” Furman coach Bob Richey said. “But we’re capable, that’s the biggest thing.”
The Paladins have played four games that have extended to overtime. That includes a victory at Louisville, so they’ll be aiming to knock off an Atlantic Coast Conference team for the second time this season Tuesday night.
There’s a certain maturity that Richey said he has seen developing with his team.
“We’ve had six of these games (that have been tight at the end),” he said. “We’ve won four. We’ve lost two.”
With Mike Bothwell reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career Friday, it gives the Paladins two players with that distinction. Alex Hunter hit that milestone last month.
–Field Level Media
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