North Carolina vs Auburn : The Auburn Tigers and the North Carolina Tar Heels meet in an NCAA tournament sweet 16 matchup in college basketball action. It’s the same advantage they had against Washington, but exists here in a different fashion. Get a summary of the Auburn Tigers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels basketball game.
North Carolina vs Auburn Live Stream: How to Watch NCAAM Basketball 2019 Online Free HD TV Coverage
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Nassir Little’s availability would be a game-time decision for Friday’s Sweet 16 Midwest Regional matchup against Auburn after the freshman forward experienced flu-like symptoms. Williams wasn’t optimistic that Little would be able to play against the Tigers.
“I can say it’s hard to make a 180-degree turn because there’s no way in the world he could play if we were playing today,” Williams said Thursday.
“He didn’t feel good last night. He was running a little bit of a temperature, running more of a temperature this morning. He didn’t feel like eating. I didn’t even bring him over here to the arena with us. … He’s sitting there [at breakfast on Thursday] and he has his plate in front of him, and it looked to me like it was hard to pick up that fork, and the last time I looked it wasn’t very heavy.”Little was North Carolina’s top reserve and fourth-leading scorer in the regular season, when he averaged 10 points. He is the Tar Heels’ leading scorer through their two NCAA tournament games, averaging 19.5 points.
North Carolina is 29-1 when scoring 74 points or more. The lone loss was the 92-89 miscue against Texas, when the season was in its infancy. Of those 29 wins, just seven have been within single digits. Only two of those seven have been within one possession (Miami at home, and at Clemson). Per KenPom, UNC is the 6th fastest team in the country with an Adjusted Tempo (AdjT) of 74.1 possessions per game and a raw tempo of 75.8.
However, getting a handle on how much Auburn “runs” is difficult. They only rank 157th in the country with an AdjT at 67.8. Their average possession lasts 16.5 seconds, just 64th nationally.
People may be mistaking “shoots an ungodly amount of threes” with “playing fast”. Auburn has made 38.2% of their three point attempts, which account for 43.5% of their overall scoring production. Their 421 made three-point field goals lead the nation and their 1113 attempts are second most in the country. That shooting frequency and success may account for a lower amount of possessions (fewer rebounds, thus fewer possessions) but to say they “run” might be a stretch.
For reference, NC State, St. Francis, Stanford, Florida State, Duke, Gonzaga, Iona, Tennessee Tech and Elon all play as fast, or faster, than Auburn. North Carolina’s record against those teams? 11-1.
If Auburn truly tries to run with the Heels, the game could be over by the first media timeout of the second half.
Everyone loves Coby. He’s good at what he does. Few players have been more fun to watch. North Carolina would not a championship contender without him. None of this is disputable.
However, Roy Williams has never made the Final Four with a freshman point guard at UNC. Bobby Frasor and Marcus Paige lost in the second round, while Ty Lawson and Kendall Marshall lost in the Elite Eight. Add whatever caveats you want to explain why Coby is “different” or “better” than previous freshman point guards, but the facts are what they are.
It’s also really hard to win a title with a first year player running the offense. Only two teams in the last 30 years have accomplished that feat. Kentucky in 2012 and Duke in 2015. As we saw in the closing weeks of the season, the offense has sputtered late in close games and execution suffers.
Coby has a propensity to over dribble, go incredibly cold from deep, and/or fail to keep facilitating the offense. Before shooting 6-11 (4-7 3P) against Washington, he had gone a combined 15-45 (3-21) in the three previous games against Louisville, Duke, and Iona. That is not a typo. Can this team afford that kind of streakiness from a score-first point guard as the competition heats up?
Pick your Poison: Bryce Brown or Jared Harper?
I’m not a 3-time NCAA champion like Coach Williams , but if Kenny Williams is healthy one would expect Roy to give him the assignment on Auburn shooting guard Bryce Brown. The 6-3 senior for the Tigers averages 15.9 points on 40.8% shooting from behind the arc. He attempts a team-high 8.7 three-pointers per game. He’s a shorter, more explosive version of Cam Johnson…if Cam only played one position, did nothing but shoot, and never rebounded or handed out assists.
Brown is good, but if he’s not hitting shots, he provides almost no tangible value. Averaging 2.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 2.0 turnovers a game, Kenny (and maybe Brandon Robinson) will be tasked with preventing Brown from touching the ball. That’s easier said than done and will likely be made more complicated by UNC’s philosophy on transition D (where they usually sprint back to the paint and then close-out on shooters, instead of finding their man wherever he is on the court). However, Auburn has seven players that average at least one three-point attempt per game. Five of those seven players average better than 35% from deep. Gotta start somewhere when drawing up a game plan, right?
One of those additional sharp shooters is point guard Jared Harper. The 5-11 junior averages 15.3 ppg while attempting 6.7 three-point shots a game. His 37.9% success rate is fourth best on the team, which is silly to think about. Unlike Brown, he’s more than just a shooter, averaging 5.7 assists per game. The Heels will do everything they can to make Brown a non-factor, but if Harper is given free rein to create in transition, the Tigers will stay close for most of the afternoon.