Dennis Smith Jr. followed up his best game at N.C. State with one of his worst.
Smith, like the rest of his teammates, had a tough game at North Carolina on Sunday. The freshman point guard got into early foul trouble and was never really a factor in the game.
Given it is likely the only game he’ll ever play in the Smith Center, that qualifies as a disappointment, even for UNC fan J. Cole.
“I ain’t gonna lie, for the first time in my life, it’s hard to watch Carolina killing someone,” Cole, the rap superstar from Fayetteville and friend of Smith’s, said at the half of N.C. State’s 107-56 loss on Sunday.
Smith finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes. He also turned the ball over six times.
As you can see from the chart of Smith’s ACC games, he has more success when takes the ball to the basket. He only did that twice against UNC. He was fouled on his first take, at 17:26 in the first half, but it was not called. He missed that field-goal attempt.
Smith didn’t take the ball to the basket and attempt a shot again until the 3:57 mark in the second half (his ninth attempt, in blue on the UNC chart).
On the season, Smith has made 10 of his 13 shots when he takes the ball to the basket. Compare that to his numbers when takes a step-back shot (1-of-11).
Also of note for Smith, he only took one free throw against UNC and that happened after that same ninth shot attempt.
In short, good things happen when Smith takes the ball to the basket: He scores, he gets to the foul line, he sets up his teammates for easy baskets.
Here’s the Virginia Tech chart for proof:
Among the many problems on Sunday, Smith didn’t take the ball to the basket enough against UNC. If he watches the Virginia Tech tape — six of his nine field goals came from taking the ball to the basket and he had 15 free-throw attempts — he’ll see the difference.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio