Double Bonus: UNC 2

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Coach Tony Bennett could not have been pleased with his team’s defense at UNC.

Over the weekend, the Virginia men’s basketball team gave up the second most points in the Tony Bennett era as North Carolina sprinted to the 93-81 win. Only Washington in the 2010 Maui Invitational scored more when the Huskies scorched the Hoos for 106. What happened? The “Double Bonus” digs into that and more from the Cavaliers’ second meeting with the Heels.

Pack-Line Problems

In scoring 93 points, UNC’s high-paced offense surpassed Virginia’s previous season average of 54.3 points per game by nearly 40 points. The Tar Heels also bested their average against Tony Bennett coached UVa teams by more than 30 points. In the previous five meetings, Carolina tallied 60, 62, 70, 54, and 52 points, an average of 59.6 points per game.

What happened?

Certainly North Carolina’s hot shooting from 3-point range helped where it made 13 of 28 attempts (46.4%). But that’s only the surface part of the story. More importantly, UNC tested the Pack Line defense with a small line-up that won individual battles off the dribble in addition to using multiple on-ball screens, dribble hand-offs, and ball reversals that can give the Cavalier scheme trouble.

Take the first possession of the game for example. Just 18 seconds into the game, Carolina scored on a lay-up. That possession featured three on-ball screens and one dribble hand-off within two to three ball reversals. All of that action and ball movement stretched out the Pack so when Reggie Bullock attacked off the dribble hand-off, he made it deep into the paint to force help from Akil Mitchell . That led to a drop-off assist for James Michael McAdoo.

Those straight-line drives became far too common throughout the day so while some blistering shooting early (UVa had 19 points in the first 8 minutes) covered up those issues, the poor execution with ball pressure defense and closeouts eventually took their toll. The signs were there early. In addition to that first possession, Carolina made two drives to the rim with minimal or no help defense (missed both lay-ups) and a drive to an uncontested pull-up