CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– Last night, North Carolina opened their regular season on Dean Dome’s hardwood with an 86-70 win over Radford.
With four players scoring in the double digits and others making crucial plays, this team showcased a lot of promise going into the season. It was a hard fought game between the two programs, and Radford even led for a few minutes throughout, but the Tar Heels did their thing and pulled away with the advantage.
Starting for the Tar Heels were mainstays Armando Bacot and RJ Davis alongside transfers Cormac Ryan, Paxon Wojcik and Harrison Ingram.
On par with his usual performances, Bacot led the team in points and rebounds with 25 and 13.
The veteran guard Ryan played the most out of this group with 31 minutes and in that time he shot three 3-pointers to lead the team. He and RJ Davis each scored 13 points. Ingram shot 2-of-5 from beyond the arc with his first shot being a 3-pointer. He finished the game with twelve points.
“You’re gonna see a lot more from Harrison in terms of his ability to be a playmaker,” Ryan said. “I think he’s one of the best passing small forwards in the entire country.”
Perhaps most impressive was the Tar Heels ability to share the ball.
“Being able to penetrate and being able to make plays not only for themselves, but for their teammates. We had 18 assists, I thought we could have had over 20,” said UNC head coach Hubert Davis.
Much of the effort was led by freshman Elliot Cadeau, who dished out a team-high six assists. On 2-of-6 shooting, the five-star recruit made his presence felt through his passing prowess as he settled into collegiate play.
“Elliot is such a gifted passer,” Davis said. “He pushes the ball. He creates offense out of our offense. He’s passing it to where a teammate can actually do something with it. He’s been super impactful for us.”
Bacot went on to add that his passing is “infectious,” saying that Cadeau’s commitment to helping those around him isn’t something he’s familiar with having on a team.
Interestingly, 15 of North Carolina’s 18 assists were from the newcomers with Paxson, Ingram and Ryan totaling three apiece. This is a performance that Tar Heel fans can get used to after UNC averaged fewer than 12 assists per game last season.
The Tar Heels floated near the bottom of the ACC in assists, ranking third worst and in their last season opener they recorded just four assists – marking a huge jump from then to now.
Multiple players have voiced that the chemistry between them is something that’s been brewing since the preseason. And it’s all rooted in one facet: hunger.
“We’re sick of not winning championships and we’re gonna change that,” Armando Bacot said.
In what was an adequate outing, the Tar Heels will have a few more non-conference matchups to hone some of their offensive lapses and clean up their shooting.
“I’m not a big FGA guy, I’m more of a FGM guy,” Davis told me.
UNC shot 52.5 percent from the field (32-of-61), 35 percent from the three-point line (7-of-20) and 65.2 percent from the free throw line (15-of-23).
North Carolina will host Lehigh at Dean Dome on Nov. 12th at 2:00pm