The Heels had season-highs in both made (14) and attempted (30) 3s on Thursday night against Virginia Tech, as the perimeter explosion fueled a PPP of 1.42—another season-best. Let’s give a quick rundown of those 30 attempts:
- Left corner: 1-3 (Berry: 0-0, Jackson: 0-1, Others: 1-2)
- Left wing: 6-11 (Berry: 1-3, Jackson: 3-6, Others: 2-2)
- Top of key: 4-7 (Berry: 2-4, Jackson: 1-1, Others: 1-2)
- Right wing: 2-7 (Berry: 2-3, Jackson: 0-3, Others: 0-1)
- Right corner: 1-2 (Berry: 0-0, Jackson: 1-1, Others: 0-1)
Jackson continues to sizzle from the left wing this season, as he’s now converting 52.8% of 3s (28-53) from that part of the court. Similarly, he continues to struggle on right-wing 3s, falling to 27.9% (12-43) on the season from that spot.
Berry’s numbers against Virginia Tech were also consistent with his season-to-date shooting trends. He’s now making 51.4% (19-37) of right-wing 3s and 48.1% (13-27) from the top of the key. From the left wing, however, Berry’s converting just 33.3% (11-33) from behind the arc.
By possession type:
- Half-court: 11-24
- Primary break: 2-3
- Secondary break: 1-2
- BLOB: 0-1
- Zone: 9-18 (Berry: 4-6, Jackson: 4-9, Others: 1-3)
The Heels got most of their 3s in the half-court, as Virginia Tech basically conceded defensive rebounds to UNC in order to focus on floor balance. Between that and their zone defense, the Hokies did effectively slow down Carolina’s pace (a season-low 64 possessions). They didn’t, of course, slow down Carolina’s offense. Led by Berry and Jackson, the Heels were able to shoot Buzz Williams right out of his match-up zone. Jackson, who entered the game just 4-of-19 (21.1%) on 3s against the zone this season, hit four zone 3s in this one alone.
By potential assister (actual 3-point assists-potential 3-point assists):
- Berry: 3-4
- Pinson: 2-4
- Unassisted/off-the-dribble: 1-4 (Berry: 1-2, Jackson: 0-1, Williams: 0-1)
- Williams: 0-4
- Maye: 2-2
- Woods: 2-2
- Meeks: 1-2
- Hicks: 1-2
- Jackson: 1-2
- Britt: 0-2
- Bradley: 1-1
- Robinson: 0-1
As noted here, Carolina continues to be a very deep team in terms of assist distribution. All 11 of its rotation members had at least one potential 3-point assist against Virginia Tech; eight of the 11 had at least one 3-point assist (Kenny Williams was a bit unlucky to not be the ninth). In just 5:03 of court time, Theo Pinson set up four 3-pointers for his teammates—a pair of which they knocked down (Britt and Jackson). In his nine offensive possessions against the Hokies, Pinson scored on two of them and had potential assists on another five.
After missing its first three 3s, Carolina went on a tear that included seven made 3s (on nine attempts) in a 13-possession span. That red-hot shooting turned an 8-2 deficit into a 29-19 Tar Heel lead. The only two missed 3s in that stretch were both rebounded by UNC—one leading to a Pinson put-back, and the other a missed Jackson second-chance. Carolina then hit 3s on its first three possessions of the second half to extend an 11-point halftime lead to 17, and effectively TKO the Hokies’ hopes for a comeback.
Let’s chronologically recount how the Heels created their 14 made 3s (I have detail on all 30, but will focus on only makes for the sake of brevity):
- After UNC fell behind 8-2 just three possessions (two VT 3s and a layup after Berry-Meeks botched a ball screen) into the game, Berry hit one of his trademark big shots to wake up the Dean Dome. This one was in the secondary break, and involved a simple kick-back pass from trailing big Meeks at the top of the key. This one was from the deep (about 25 feet) left wing.
- Against Virginia Tech’s zone, Justin Jackson entered the ball to Luke Maye in the right short corner. With the Hokies consistently trapping the corners out their zone, Maye made a really nice escape dribble to the right corner before skipping a pass to Berry at the top of the key. This was a really good zone offense possession—hockey assist to Jackson, primary assist to Maye.
- On the very next possession, Maye and Berry teamed up again. This time, Williams entered the ball to Maye on the left block. After shot-faking, he again used an escape dribble to avoid the trap and set up an inside-out, right-wing 3 for Berry. More really good zone offense.
- Seventh Woods attacked a gap in VT’s zone defense, setting up a (long) dribble hand-off to Pinson who was stepping right into the shot at the top of the key.
- After collecting a live-ball steal, Pinson pushed the ball hard in transition, setting up a left-corner 3 for Nate Britt in the primary break.
- This time, it was Berry who attacked a gap in the Hokies’ match-up zone off the dribble. That drive from the right wing set up a nifty bounce pass to the right corner for a Jackson 3.
- Jackson received a routine perimeter pass against the zone from Pinson, knocking down a deep 24-footer from the top of the key (and taking advantage of some slight VT confusion/miscommunication). Unlike some earlier possessions, this wasn’t great zone offense execution (no paint/high post/short corner touches, or attacking of gaps with the dribble). It was simply great shot-making from Jackson. While the zone execution was significantly better/cleaner than against Georgia Tech, the shot-making/shot luck was much better, too. As Ol’ Roy likes to say, “It looks a lot better when the ball goes through the net.”
- Following a missed Berry 3, Britt grabbed a long offensive rebound, took a dribble back to reset the offense, then immediately entered the ball to Tony Bradley on the left block (VT was out of its zone by this point, and the Heels were looking to get the bigs involved in the post). After feeding the post, Britt instantly set a screen for/exchanged with Brandon Robinson, who received an inside-out pass from Bradley to hit a left-wing 3. Well-earned hockey assist for Britt.
- On the first possession of the second half, Virginia Tech came out in an extended 1-3-1 zone. UNC found Hicks in the right corner and, following a skip pass, found Williams in the left corner. Williams again reversed the ball to Jackson, who found Berry spotted up in his favorite right-wing location for the 3. More good zone offense, as the Heels made several side-to-side reversals to stretch the defense.
- Berry pushed the ball in secondary to get Meeks a high-post touch as the trailing big (a deeper initial touch than the usual top-of-the-key one). Meeks collapsed the defense with a single dribble into the paint, then kicked it out for a Williams-to-Berry-to-Jackson perimeter passing exchange that ended with a Jackson 3 from the left wing. I credited Meeks with the hockey assist here (on Berry’s primary assist).
- On the defensive end, Meeks got switched on to Seth Allen following a ball screen and easily drove him to the rim. Jackson’s strong help defense allowed him to block a shot (after an Allen drive-and-dish), which Meeks recovered to rebound. A quick Meeks outlet to Berry allowed the Heels to get out in transition, with Berry hitting Williams with a diagonal pass to set up an open left-wing 3 in the primary break.
- Britt threw a post entry to Hicks on the left block, with Jackson relocating to an open spot in the zone as defensive eyes focused on the paint. Hicks kicked out for a left-wing Jackson 3, another good example of UNC’s inside-out offensive system.
- The only unassisted 3 of the evening, Berry pulled up at the top of the key in transition and confidently stroked one off the dribble.
- UNC’s final 3 of the game (incidentally, UNC’s record for made 3s in a game is 17 by the great-shooting ’95 team vs. FSU (17-25); perhaps more impressively, the ’09 champs went 16-25 on the road at Maryland) occurred following late-clock Woods-Hicks ball screen action. Unable to create in isolation, Woods kicked it to Jackson (in a bad spot) with only a couple seconds left on the shot clock. Jackson bailed him out by drilling a deep 28-footer from his preferred left wing. A play nearly identical to this happened against Davidson, with Jackson bailing out Britt with a deep one from the same location.