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North Carolina had No. 8-ranked Miami on the ropes on Saturday, but never managed to land enough of a punch to knock the Hurricanes down.
The Tar Heels had every opportunity at a first-half knockout, but the Tar Heels were unable to leverage three early red zone trips—two inside the Miami five—into the three-score lead one might expect, instead managing only a three-point lead despite their early dominance.
After a pair of missed tackles resulted in a 51-yard Miami touchdown just before the half, Carolina went into the break down a point (7–6) despite having thoroughly outplayed the Hurricanes.
BIG PLAY DISPARITY SCARY
Former UNC and Texas head coach Mack Brown used to tell his teams that a four-hour football game is usually decided by five to seven plays, with the team that seizes the initiative and makes those big plays emerging as victors.
But Carolina’s inability to make those game-altering plays — and their penchant for giving them up — has been a trend throughout the season. The numbers are frightening. Against NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision competition, the Tar Heels are currently No. 82 of 130 nationally in scrimmage plays over 30 yards (15) and No. 116 in such plays allowed (23). The defensive numbers get worse as the plays get longer: 17 plays given up over 40 yards is good for No. 127, and a staggering 12 plays surrendered over 50 yards comes in at second-to-last nationally at No. 129.
Couple that big-play disparity with being No. 117 in turnover margin (-8) and No. 95 in red zone efficiency, and Carolina’s loss to Miami serves as a near-perfect microcosm of the season performance. At least the Tar Heels, who played the game without a staggering 22 players out with injury, seem to have emerged from the game without losing another player for the season.
The men’s basketball team opened the season with an exhibition game against Division II Barton College on Friday, with Roy Williams using the opportunity to “play a bunch of guys,” with 10 players getting double-digit minutes in the 91-80 win.
Not included among those 10, of course, is Joel Berry, who broke his hand by punching a door after losing to teammate Theo Pinson in NBA 2K, a basketball video game. Though obviously an exhibition of poor judgment, there’s no questioning Berry’s competitiveness.
Of note in the exhibition: Luke Maye looks ready for a big year, as he stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in only 20 minutes of action. Garrison Brooks (13 points, nine rebounds in 19 minutes) looks like the most prepared of the three freshmen big men, but each flashed encouraging potential.
Small forward Zion Williamson (6-foot-6, 275 pounds), best known for his high-flying dunks, was on campus for an official visit over the weekend. Williamson is the second-best recruit in the class of 2018 according to the 247Composite rankings and is also considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Clemson. All reports are that the visit went as well as Carolina could hope, with Williamson’s friendships with several current UNC commits a major asset in the Heels’ pursuit of the prep superstar.
UNC has also announced that it will be staging a basketball exhibition at the Dean Smith Center starting at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5 to raise money for the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund. The event will be a jamboree including UNC, ECU, UNC Greensboro, and UNC Wilmington, with each school playing a total of 40 minutes against the other three teams.