By Adam Lucas
ATLANTA—Leaky black was enjoying a very brief respite on the bench during Sunday afternoon’s first half when all of Carolina’s coaching staff suddenly craned their necks to look him up and down.
Georgia Tech’s Michael Devoe had just made it to the goalscoring table to resume play after an equally quick rest. No one said a word, because no one had to. Black immediately jumped off the bench and walked over to the table. If Devoe was back in the game, so was he.
It was that kind of afternoon for the senior Tar Heel, who followed Devoe, the nation’s top scorer, wherever he went. Devoe had just put in three straight performances of 37, 26 and 33 points in his last three games, the latter showing against Wisconsin’s particularly stingy defense.
The Tech sniper scored 13 points against the Tar Heels, but he needed 12 shots to do so. Black combined with Anthony harris, who played a 14:21 record for the season, to limit Devoe to 5 for 12 from the field, and two of those buckets made were burnouts in transition when not challenged. This means he shot 3 against 10 against Black and Harris.
“We gave 100 percent on every possession on the defensive end.” Hubert davis stated on the Tar Heel Sports Network with Jones angell after the game. “Devoe led the country in scoring and three-point shooting percentage. From the winger’s perspective, there was no one in the country playing better than him. Work Leaky black and Anthony harris did over him was just outstanding and really highlights the kind of individual defenseman these two guys are and how elite they can be defensively. “
Carolina has spent a lot of training time the last two days defending Devoe. It was highlighted on the team’s scout report, which was written by the assistant coach Jeff Lebo, and the team watched additional clips of him after Friday practice.
During that practice session, Davis once stopped training when the Tar Heel starters gave up an open look. “It’s cash Sunday,” he told them. “I’m just telling you, it’s going to be money. He’s number one in the country in terms of score. He’s number one in three-point percentage. It’s in the country! of sense of urgency than this. “
And that’s how Black and Harris – who Davis called “the MVP of the game” in a move somewhat reminiscent of a certain coach who wears a dome in his name, who had a knack for getting players to. role feel essential for the success of the team, played it on Sunday. Devoe very rarely had an open look at the basket, and on several occasions in the first half Black invaded him so intensely that the Jackets couldn’t even send the ball to Devoe to throw the set they. were trying to run.
Devoe had averaged 18 shots and seven free throws per game during that recent three-game streak. On Sunday, he got just 12 field goal attempts and two free throw tries.
“Honestly, I was just trying to make every shot difficult for him,” Black said. “He’s a great player. It’s hard to speed him up, but I was trying to make him as uncomfortable as possible for as long as possible. It was my job.”
Black stayed after practice on Friday to get a few extra points from Jackie Manuel, who knows a bit how to make opponents uncomfortable defensively. Manuel’s advice to Black was simple: “You know he’s a goalscorer. He will score. But would you rather he try to score by taking shots in the air or going down a slope and hitting the basket and being fouled? “
The answer, even for a player as talented as Devoe, is the jump shots. The Tar Heels made a conscious effort to force him away from his more comfortable driving hand. Eventually her frustration escalated to the point that it became noticeable. By this point, Carolina had built a double-digit lead.
“Later in the second half, I felt like he was about to get more aggressive,” said Black. “I thought he was going to start throwing up, but he started again. Everyone got more aggressive and was driving and he relaxed. I felt like I was kinda in his head, and Ant ( Harris) did a great job too. “
Fortunately, not every opponent will have a Devoe. But Sunday’s performance gives Davis plenty of talk over the next week, as his side have five days left to play against Elon. The head coach has repeatedly told his team that he wants opponents to walk away from the Tar Heels thinking they have had an evening off. That’s what happened to Devoe on Sunday, and it’s something the Carolina defense can build on. Pair up several consistent shooters with players determined to make a difference in defense, and you can win a lot of matches that way.
“One of the things I told them after Michigan was validation,” Davis said. “We had to prove that the way we played Wednesday night wasn’t a unique thing. That’s who we are. This week has been a week of validation from a defensive perspective and basketball sharing. the fundamentals of this program, with playing hard, playing smart, and playing together and playing the right way. “