No. 13 UNC focused on improvement versus Davidson

North Carolina ended up feeling better after recovering from its first loss of the season.

Now the No. 13 Tar Heels are intent on becoming better in numerous areas as they head into Friday night’s game against Davidson at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.

“Everybody is getting better, but at the same time it’s going to be a learning process,” senior guard Theo Pinson said. “We still have to get better.”

In drubbing Michigan 86-71, the Tar Heels (6-1) got their offense cranked up again after historical low shooting numbers in a loss to Michigan State.

So with some of the offense solved, that led to quite a bit of talk about defense, in part because of stretches early and late in the game when Michigan was scoring at a healthy clip.

“Still, we’re not protecting the rim very well,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “Teams are having their way with us inside.”

In the game against Davidson (3-2), which has made a nation-leading 13.8 baskets from 3-point range per game, perimeter defense might be more important.

North Carolina gave up seven first-half 3-point baskets to Michigan.

“We’re trying to do a better job of guarding the 3-point shot,” Williams said. “We’re mediocre right now, but I do think we can get there.”

But the main emphasis for the Tar Heels might be the amount of energy that they bring. They could tell the difference between the two most-recent games.

“The biggest thing, just coming out with more energy,” senior guard Joel Berry said.

That seemed to work for Davidson, which is coming off Tuesday night’s 85-70 victory against regional rival Charlotte. That snapped a two-game skid for the Wildcats.

“I was so pleased with our defensive connectivity. We were a team of defenders out there,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said.

Peyton Aldridge leads Davidson with 22 points per game, while Kellan Grady and Jon Axel Gudmundsson both check in with 15.8 points per outing. That trio is shooting a combined 50.8 percent from the field.

Grady became only the second Davidson freshman to begin his career with consecutive games of 20 or more points.

McKillop said Grady relied on perimeter shooting for the first couple games but showed a better finishing touch near the basket against Charlotte.

That was needed because Davidson made only 8 of 29 shots from 3-point range.

“For us not to make our 3s and put 85 points on the board, I think that’s a very, very telling statistic,” McKillop said. “Showed some energy and some inspiration and some life.”

Davidson hasn’t defeated a ranked opponent since topping Dayton on Jan. 20, 2015.

The Wildcats have played six previous games (all against ACC members) at what’s now called the Spectrum Center, which is the NBA arena in Charlotte. The lone Davidson victory in those games came against North Carolina State in 2008.

For North Carolina, this is the middle contest of a three-game stretch in five days.

North Carolina leads the series 65-11, winning the last eight meetings. That includes an 83-74 victory last December in Chapel Hill.