The Tar Heels took on Butler in the second game of the Maui Invitational tonight. UNC won in impressive style over Mississippi State on Monday 95-49 while Butler defeated Marquette on a last second buzzer beater from beyond the arc.
UNC sent out the same starting lineup they used in the first four games of the season with Desmond Hubert paired with James Michael McAdoo inside. Freshman Marcus Paige started out on Rodney Clark, Butlers most explosive offensive threat. Carolina started slow offensively falling behind 6-0 and didn’t score until two and a half minutes into the game.
Keeping an eye on the rotation, McAdoo was the first Tar Heel starter to head to the bench with Brice Johnson subbing in four minutes into the game with UNC down 8-2. McAdoo re-entered the game a couple minutes later with the Heels down 12-4 five and a half minutes into the game along with Joel James. PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald entered nine and a half minutes into the game. Jackson Simmons and JP Tokoto entered the game with seven and a half minutes to go in the first half.
Defensively the Heels struggled defending the dribble penetration of Butler. Paige struggled on Clark early as he hit two of his first three attempts from beyond the arc and scored eight of Butlers first 17 points. Butler also dominated the boards early caroling 10 of the first 13 rebounds.
UNC was simply getting out hustled by Butler on both ends of the floor in the first half. After a three from Paige with 12 minutes to go UNC did not score for five and a half minutes when McDonald knocked down a three finally putting the Heels in double digits as they trailed 21-10.
Butler just kept going at Carolina and looked to be wearing out the Tar Heels throughout the first half. After lighting it up against Mississippi State from the field UNC shot just 28% from the field converting on just six field goal attempts and failing to break the 20 point mark for the first time since 1998 against Purdue. The half ended with UNC trailing 35-18.
Brice Johnson started the second half in place of Desmond Hubert a trend this season in which Hubert has started the game but not the second half. UNC started off with a concerted effort to get the ball inside to McAdoo who attempted the first two shots of the half but the sloppy play continued as Butler extended the lead to 21 two minutes into the half.
Down 21 points Roy put in an entirely new lineup with Luke Davis entering the game for the first time at the point. The change in lineups didn’t do anything to slow down Butler as the lead continued to increase.
PJ Hairston attempted the first free throw of the night for the Heels with 13:13 to go in the game. UNC finally went on a nice run fueled by Hairston who hit two threes and had two other three point plays in a 14-2 run in under three minutes of play. The lead was still 17 with 9:28 to play when Butler finally called a timeout after a third consecutive turnover. Butler eventually ended the run with two consecutive three point shots putting them up 22.
UNC finally stopped looking like a group of overwhelmed freshman on the court and played with some aggression defensively with about eight minutes to go in the game. A runner by Paige with 2:45 to go cut the lead to 13 giving UNC a glimmer of a hope. They finally started to put together some stops and forced a few turnovers and cut the lead to six with 1:02 to go on the back of an 8-0 run in just 41 seconds. A big miss by Hairston under the rim on the next trip down the floor sealed the deal for the Tar Heels as the late run was too little too late.
Biggest takeaway for me is the lack of rebounding and perimeter defense, Butler out-rebounded UNC 36-27 and hit 12 three point shots. McAdoo had an awful night but I am confident he will be able to bounce back and have a consistent season as the go to guy for Carolina. Good shooting teams undoubtedly will watch this game as a formula to confuse and take this young Tar Heel team out of their game. UNC had a tough time with ball screens and failed to close out on open shooters and were torched from beyond the arc.
This was an obvious sign that this is a young and developing team that has a long ways to go. They aren’t as bad as they looked tonight but at the same time they are not nearly as great as they looked against Mississippi State. What this was is a great learning experience. UNC played well the latter part of the second half but couldn’t overcome a putrid first half.
Final Score: UNC 71 Butler 82
UNC will play in the third place game tomorrow facing the loser of tonight’s game against Illinois and Chaminade.