With a talented and deep pool of players emerging for the Tar Heels, reserves in particular must make the most of their minutes to consistently take the floor.
Sophomore forward Brice Johnson has done just that, scoring 10 points with four rebounds (three offensive), three steals and two blocks in Sunday’s 73-62 win over Notre Dame.
Johnson’s most impressive stat in his 21 minutes of action may be zero: as in turnovers.
It wasn’t a fluke, either, as Johnson was even more potent offensively in the previous contest, hitting all eight of his field goal attempts for 19 points in just 22 minutes of a 75-63 win over Maryland.
Johnson, the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.2 boards per game, contributed seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. The only trouble he could have? Getting a job at a bakery, perhaps, as he made zippo turnovers.
The Orangeburg, South Carolina, native’s strong play has certainly helped the Tar Heels, who have rolled off five straight wins to climb into the middle of the pack in the ACC.
It’s been a streaky campaign for Johnson, who scored in double figures in seven of the team’s first eight games but failed to do so again until the Heels toppled NC State the previous weekend.
A push from head coach Roy Williams got Johnson, fourth on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game, and his fellow reserves going in the Maryland contest, however.
“At halftime I jumped on them and I told them those guys that came into the game didn’t give us anything,” Williams said. “And when I put you into the game as a substitute you have to give us something positive. I didn’t think we got much of a lift.
“But then I think Brice really picked us up in the second half… he was really important to us.”
That could continue to be true as the Tar Heels continue to ramp up for March Madness.