The North Carolina Tar Heels returned home against UAB after a five game road trip that ended in two losses in the last three contests and an embarrassing loss to #1 ranked Indiana. Former UNC assistant coach Jerrod Haas returned to the Dean Smith Center as UAB head coach for the first time.
Injury issues: Reggie Bullock played after suffering an injury this week in practice, Marcus Paige tweaked his shoulder during shoot around and did not play for Carolina. Leslie McDonald and Joel James started for the first time in their careers. PJ Hairston dressed and came off the bench.
Keeping an eye on the rotation: It was interesting to see Joel James start instead of Desmond Hubert inside with the way Brice Johnson has been playing. This is a sign that Roy Williams has still not decided on which freshman should have that starting spot next to James Michael McAdoo. Hubert and Hairston were the first off the bench followed by Luke Davis early in the first half. Brice Johnson entered for McAdoo who had early foul trouble. McAdoo re-entered the game with nine minutes to go in the half with two fouls and UNC playing a sloppy game.
McAdoo got into early foul trouble with two fouls six and a half minutes into the game starting with zero points and just one field goal attempt. UNC turned the ball over a lot early in a sloppy start to the game with seven turnovers in the first nine minutes of the contest.
UAB led the Heels 15-14 with just under 10 minutes to go before Carolina put together their first run of the game 11-0 putting them up 25-15 with six minutes remaining in the first half. UNC took a double digit lead two different occasions extending the lead to 14 at one point but could not hold onto it either time surrendering consecutive three pointers each time to UAB. Carolina took just a six point lead into half time 35-29.
Brice Johnson had a terrific first half leading UNC with nine points on 4-6 shooting with five rebounds and a blocked shot. McAdoo finished the half strong with six rebounds, four offensive and five points hitting on two of his last three attempts. The Tar Heels did a nice job on the glass with a 24-14 rebounding advantage in the first half and 11 offensive boards.
UNC came out in the second half strong on the offensive end with McAdoo hitting four shots in the first three and a half minutes. Defensively the team continued to suffer the same lapses and giving up open three point shots and UAB cut the lead to three with 15:50 remaining.
UNC went with a lineup of Davis, McDonald, Hairston, Bullock and McAdoo and went on a nice run sparked by McDonald who knocked down a couple of three point shots to put them up 11 with 14 minutes to go. After yet another defensive lapse Roy Williams went crazy on the UNC bench slamming his clipboard to the floor, this team is just not engaged on the defensive end and has not done a good job of getting back on defense.
After that timeout UNC looked like a different team in terms of it’s hustle. Shots were better contested, passing lanes were being defended and offensively they were pushing the ball, moving around in the half court and looked like the Carolina team we expected to see this season.
UNC did not let their big lead slip away and did a nice job of finishing off the Blazers winning by 18.
Carolina had five players in double figures with Leslie McDonald leading the way with 24 followed by Bullock with 17 PJ Hairston scored all of his 16 points in the second half. The Tar Heels had 28 assists on 37 field goals but committed 21 turnovers.
Final Score: UNC 102 UAB 84
Up Next: The Tar Heels stay home to face East Tennessee St on December 8th.