In the first meeting between these two programs in January, Miami pulled away in the second half by making 5-of-9 3-pointers during 10-minute, 35-second stretch. The Hurricanes improved on that performance by lighting up the Tar Heels for the entire 40 minutes at the BankUnited Center.
North Carolina, however, had shown signs of correcting its perimeter woes in recent weeks. After allowing its first three ACC opponents to blister the nets by converting 45.2 percent of their 3-points, UNC had held its last five league opponents to 30.4 percent (24-of-79).
That positive trend once again turned negative on Saturday.
Kadji ended the first half the same way he started it, by drilling a 3-pointer on Miami’s final possession. The Hurricanes connected of 10 of its 16 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes as five different players converted from deep.
Point guard Shane Larkin did the most damage, both by shooting lights out (4-of-6 on 3s) and by penetrating and pitching to open teammates.
Miami ultimately shot better from behind the arc (57.7 percent, 15-of-26) than it did from the floor (54.4 percent, 31-of-57). Both percentages represent season-highs by opponents against UNC.
The Hurricanes’ 15 3-pointers are the most allowed by North Carolina since William & Mary made 16 in the opening round of the 2010 N.I.T.
“A lot of teams could stand out there with no defense on the court and make 15 out of 26 from three,” UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference. “Things were smooth for them and they were hitting on all cylinders.”
Larkin finished with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 5-of-8 effort from long range. Kadji and Durand Scott both connected on three 3-pointers, while Trey McKinney Jones and Rion Brown both added a pair.
Defensive miscues combined with an inability to stop dribble penetration led to Miami’s record-tying shooting display.
“They can shoot the ball,” Paige said. “They usually have four guys on the court who can really stretch the floor. With Kadji, it makes it difficult because its hard for our big guys to get out to him all of the time and he’s the one setting the screen a lot of times. Containing the ball was a struggle for us tonight.”
James Michael McAdoo offered similar comments.
“We knew who the shooters were,” the sophomore forward said. “A couple of guys on the team really shot the ball well today that we weren’t expecting, but that’s a credit to them. We’ve got to be able to make adjustments and we didn’t do that.”
North Carolina switched to a zone from its standard man defense midway through the first half. After a stop on the first possession, UNC gave up back-to-back threes on open looks.
“We knew their offense can get stagnant sometimes when they go against a zone, but they shot us right out of it,” Paige said.
The Tar Heels had crept up to sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.6) in ACC-only games prior to Saturday’s game. That percentage, however, jumped to 38.0 percent after Miami’s barrage.