North Carolina searches for answers vs. Appalachian State

NCAA Men's Basketball

North Carolina has a lot to address as it prepares for its final non-conference game of the season.

The Tar Heels (8-3, 1-0 ACC) face visiting Appalachian State on Tuesday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“For us to be the best that we can be as a team, it’s impossible absent effort and toughness and energy,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “It just can’t be. There isn’t — that has to be brought to the table every game.”

That reaction largely stems from North Carolina performing poorly in a 98-69 beating from Kentucky on Saturday in Las Vegas. The 29 points marked Kentucky’s largest margin of defeat for UNC since 1950.

Appalachian State (6-6), which will enter Sun Belt Conference competition next week, plays its second game in a row against one of the traditional national powers. The Mountaineers fell 92-67 last week at Duke.

Yet Appalachian State coach Dustin Kerns had a positive tone regarding his team.

“We’ll be proud of the way we battled,” he said. “I learned that I have a good team and that we’ll battle.”

The Mountaineers will look to rekindle some of the offense from Michael Almonacy, who had 17 first-half points in the Duke game but didn’t score again.

“He’s capable of scoring,” Kerns said. “He’s a big-time shooter, a tough shot maker.”

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot has seven double-doubles this season after recording 22 points and 10 rebounds vs. Kentucky. The Tar Heels made just one of 13 attempts from 3-point range.

North Carolina didn’t have defensive answers for Kentucky.

Davis said there wasn’t any singular issue that was more disturbing than the next. He said the Tar Heels shouldn’t have to lose a game by a wide margin to pursue the type of approach needed to be consistently better.

“I’m only thinking about this team, where this team is going to go, how we’re going to get better,” Davis said.

The good news for the Tar Heels is that they’ll be back home, where they own a 6-0 record.

Unless Appalachian State pulls out a victory, it will have at least a month-long gap between wins against Division I opponents.

North Carolina has won all five meetings with the Mountaineers. The teams last met six years ago, with UNC winning at home 94-70.

–Field Level Media

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