The North Carolina Tar Heels headed west for a tuneup against Long Beach State before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational Tournament. The last time these teams met the Heels narrowly escaped with a 84-78 win after trailing at halftime.
Desmond Hubert once against started at center for the Tar Heels. UNCs first three field goals came from beyond the arc with two coming from freshman point guard Marcus Paige. Keeping an eye on the rotation, PJ Hairston and Joel James were the first off the bench who subbed in for Hubert and Reggie Bullock with Leslie McDonald entering next for Dexter Strickland.
The UNC offense was heavy with jump shots early going away from the early season trend of relying heavily on James Michael McAdoo early. After starting 3-4 from downtown, UNC missed their next five attempts from beyond the arc. McAdoo scored his first bucket 11 minutes into the game after averaging over 22 points the first two games.
The first half was turnover heavy and Long Beach State hung with Carolina and led for a good portion of the half with both offenses playing pretty well early. The UNC offense cooled down succumbing to turnovers and going cold with the jump shot. The Heels did not play their game in the first half going away from feeding it inside to McAdoo, James and Johnson and relying too much on the outside shot.
UNC led at halftime by just one point 33-32.
Brice Johnson started the second half in place of Hubert, the first two games it was Joel James that took Huberts place at the start of the second. I take this as a sign that Roy has yet to decide which freshman is the best fit for the starting lineup when he finally does decide to replace Hubert for good.
After missing 13 straight three pointers the Heels got back to back threes from Bullock and Paige early in the second half forcing a LBS timeout. The Heels built a eight point lead on the back of a 14-4 run seven minutes into the half as they made a much more concerted effort to get the ball into the post. Feeding the post worked as it began opening things up from the perimeter, the Heels began heating up increasing the lead to 14 with 11 minutes to go.
After a slow start PJ Hairston got going hitting two of his first three attempts from beyond the arc in the second half. UNC can be extremely good if they can work inside out and give these shooters open looks while the defense collapses inside the paint. The better part of the initial run by Carolina was done with McAdoo on the bench, an encouraging sign considering how important he is to this offense to see the team play so well without him on the court.
When McAdoo returned he was very impressive scoring in bunches providing nice balance to the offense to keep the run alive. In the end UNC was just too much for the 49ers who couldn’t handle the athleticism of the Tar Heels and had no answer for McAdoo.
Final Score: UNC 78 Long Beach 63
Biggest Takeaways: It was great to see this team play so well with McAdoo on the bench for their initial run in the second half. As good as he’s been, McAdoo will have a bad game here and there and they need others to put the ball in the basket. Hairston coming alive after the break was big, if he can get going this team can be dangerous. Paige’s scoring output was another nice sign, he keeps playing better and better with each passing game, he still needs to cut down on his turnovers but that’s expected of a freshman PG early in the year. Hubert once again proved to me the more that I watch him the more I want to see him sit on the bench. Bullock needs to be more aggressive in terms of creating offense, nine of his first ten attempts were from three point range. For a guy expected to be the #2 scorer on this team he has to get higher percentage shots. Luke Davis and Jackson Simmons didn’t enter the game until the final minute and Hubert played very little in the second half as Roy begins tightening the rotation.