The North Carolina Tar Heels have been relegated to the third place game after being defeated by Butler last night. This is the first time that UNC has not made the championship game in the Maui Invitational Tournament when they have participated. The Tar Heels are looking to bounce back against host Chaminade who pulled off an improbable upset against Texas Monday night before falling to Illinois last night.
Keeping an eye on the rotation freshman Brice Johnson got his first start of the season in place of sophomore Desmond Hubert and scored his first basket in the first two minutes of play. Leslie McDonald and Luke Davis entered two and a half minutes into the game for for Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland. I was a bit surprised that we didn’t see PJ Hairston off the bench after his performance in this tournament. Hairston entered with Paige who re-entered the lineup four and a half minutes into the game. JP Tokoto entered with 7:30 to go in the first half. Hubert did not enter the game until three minutes remaining in the first half.
The Tar Heel defense looked out of sorts to start as they gave up three quick layups and a wide open three in the first few minutes of the contest. After the early substitutions UNC scored 14 straight points fueled by Reggie Bullock who connected on three shots from beyond the arc with another coming from McDonald.
UNC played a much more controlled game committing just one turnover in the first 12 minutes of the game. They did not however dominate the boards early in the contest like I expected after getting out rebounded by Butler with just a 12-10 edge with eight minutes to go in the first half.
UNC took a 29 point lead into halftime shooting 9-12 from three point range led by Bullock with 16 points and McAdoo with 12.
In the second half UNC lost a bit of their intensity and focus for the first seven or so minutes of the half and Roy brought in mass substitutions. Luke Davis hit the first three of the half almost eight minutes in after lighting it up in the first half. The Tar Heels went small with Tokoto playing inside giving McAdoo and extended rest in the middle of the half.
This was a great opportunity against lesser competition to see what players like Davis and Tokoto could do with extended minutes. The Tar Heels surpassed the 100 point mark for the first time this season with over six minutes left to play. They did it in the second half by penetrating the lane and getting the ball into the post making just four three point shots.
UNC closed out a lopsided victory winning by 42 with the final score 112-70.
Key Takeaways: Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo played the way they were supposed to play tonight. Bullock must be aggressive like he was in the tonight and step up as this teams #2 guy behind McAdoo. This team has to do a better job of boxing out and attacking the boards against a team like Chaminade they should have dominated the boards from the opening tip, yet they led in that department by just two 18-16 at halftime. Although they pulled away in the second half in terms of rebounding, they need to be more consistent on the boards. Luke Davis played really well with five first half assists. UNC did a much better job of creating and scoring off of turnovers in this game and they need to remain active in the passing lanes to create fast break opportunities.