With defense, effort lacking, UNC struggles in loss to Vols

By R.L. Bynum

Two areas that Coach Hubert Davis never wants to worry about are defense and effort, but both are big concerns through four games.

Brady Manek and Armando Bacot gave North Carolina big offensive games. But the problem for the Tar Heels was that there was very little scoring punch from anybody else until it was too late as the defensive lapses just kept coming.

That all combined to make for a long afternoon for the No. 18 Tar Heels (3–2). They ended up 0 for 2 at the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament after an 89–72 loss Sunday afternoon to the No. 17 Volunteers (3–1).

Beyond Manek (24 points, six 3-pointers) and Bacot (15 points, 12 rebounds), Carolina only got four field goals from the rest of the team in the first half (two from Dawson Garcia), getting little scoring punch from the backcourt until Caleb Love (seven of his 12 points in the second half) and RJ Davis (12 of his 14) turned up the offense in the second half.

The buzzword for Coach Davis was “change” after the loss.

“Everything needs to change,” Hubert Davis said. “I’m very disappointed but I’m not discouraged. This gives us an opportunity to really reflect and see what we’re doing and the things we need to change. And I can guarantee things will change. I’m convinced that we can be a good defensive team and it will change.”

Roy Williams routinely bemoaned having to coach effort and Coach Davis is finding himself trying to figure out how to do that after only his fourth game.

“We’ve had the type of effort that I think we need to have in spots for particular halves, but never for a full 40 minutes,” Davis said. “And that’s something that I’m trying, as a coach, to understand. I never want to coach effort. It means something to play at this place. It means something to be a part of this program. There’s a fire inside of you that should never burn out given that opportunity to be out there on the floor. We’re gonna figure this out.”

Without the offense producing as it had in the first four games, there was very little chance that Carolina was going to be able to stay with Tennessee and its three-guard lineup. The Vols had four double-figure scorers, led by 18 points from Zakai Zeigler.

“I’ve got to do a better job and, just being one of the leaders in getting all the guys to play,” Bacot said.

Manek agreed with Coach Davis’ assessment on effort.


“We’ve got to play harder. We’ve got to want to play,” Manek said. “We can’t be down against these teams because they’re really good.”

It took 3:27 for UNC to score a field goal and the Tar Heels missed six of their first seven shots. A Bacot inside bucket gave Carolina its first lead at 1211 with 13:06 left in the first half.

With Garcia and Bacot on the bench with two fouls, the Vols had much greater success scoring inside in the first half.

Manek generated a 6–0 run with two of his first-half 3-pointers to pull Carolina within three with 1:50 left in the first half. But the Vols took a 39–32 halftime lead, marking the fourth consecutive game that UNC has trailed at halftime.

It didn’t get any better in the second half as the Vols pushed their lead to 54–41 on a Justin Powell jumper with 15:04 left.

Carolina returns home Tuesday at 7 p.m. to face UNC Asheville (2–2), which was picked to finish second in the Big South Conference South Division.

The Bulldogs, who were 10–10 last season, have victories over Brevard College (101–44) and Tennessee Tech (61–55) and losses to UAB (102–77) and Chattanooga (75–45).

No. 17 Tenn. 89, No. 18 UNC 72

UNC season statistics

DateScore, record/day, time, TVLocationOpponent
583–55 exhibition winHomeElizabeth City State
983–67 winHomeLoyola Maryland
1294–87 winHomeBrown
1694–83 win, 3–0RoadCollege of Charleston
2093–84 loss, 3–1Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 6 Purdue
2189–72 loss, 3–2Uncasville, Conn.Y — No. 17 Tennessee
23Tuesday, 7, RSNHomeUNC Asheville
1Wednesday, 9:15, ESPNHomeX — No. 4 Michigan
5Sunday, 3, ESPNRoadGeorgia Tech
11Saturday, 8, ACCNHomeElon
14Tuesday, 7, ESPN2HomeFurman
18Saturday, 3, CBSLas VegasZ — No. 2 UCLA
21Tuesday, 7, ACCNHomeAppalachian State
29Wednesday, 7, ESPN2HomeVirginia Tech
1Saturday, noon, ACCNRoadBoston College
5Wednesday, 9, ESPN2RoadNotre Dame
8Saturday, 1, ESPNHomeVirginia
15Saturday, 8, ACCNHomeGeorgia Tech
18Tuesday, TBA, ESPNRoadMiami
22Saturday, 8, ACCNRoadWake Forest
26Wednesday, RSNHomeBoston College
29Saturday, 2, ACCNHomeN.C. State
31Monday, 7, ESPNRoadLouisville
5Saturday, 6, ESPNHomeNo. 7 Duke
8Tuesday, 9, ESPN or ESPN2RoadClemson
12Saturday, 2, ESPN or ESPN2HomeFlorida State
16Wednesday, 8, ACCNHomePittsburgh
19Saturday, 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadVirginia Tech
21Monday, 7, ESPNHomeLouisville
26Saturday, 2 or 4, ESPN or ESPN2RoadN.C. State
28Monday, 7, ESPNHomeSyracuse
5Saturday, 6, ESPNRoadNo. 7 Duke
ACC TournamentBrooklyn
RSN — regional sports networks; ACCN — ACC Network;
X — ACC/Big Ten Challenge; Y — Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff; Z — CBS Sports Classic

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

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