After a week off the North Carolina Tar Heels took the court to face East Tennessee State at the Dean Dome.
Keeping an eye on the rotation Joel James got the start inside but was replaced by Desmond Hubert just three and a half minutes into the game. Leslie McDonald, Brice Johnson and PJ Hairston entered the game after the first TV timeout five minutes into the game as Roy Williams went to the bench early. JP Tokoto entered half way through the first half with Luke Davis getting a couple mins as the half wound down to complete the rotation.
Reggie Bullock started out hot scoring the first seven points of the game for the Heels. The defense looked good early after UNC fell behind 2-0 they went on a 13-0 run fueled by defensive stops and steals that led to shots early in the shot clock. The ball movement was terrific in the half court, the Heels were making the extra pass and taking good shots and getting everybody involved. Leading scorer James Michael McAdoo didn’t score until after the nine minute mark when UNC already had 22 points on the board.
UNC employed a smothering trap defense that took East Tennessee out of their offense, the hustle and intensity was there and this looked like an inspired team that learned from the uninspiring contests lately. The Heels bench accounted for 27 of the teams 42 first half points led by McDonald and Brice Johnson who each scored eight.
Score at the half: UNC 42 ETS 12
The game started out very sloppy in the second half and the hustle and heart UNC showed in the first half on the defensive end dropped off significantly. Roy became very emotional after Johnson failed to hustle to a loose ball that resulted in a fast break basket for ETS around the 12 minute mark.
Roy went with hockey like substitution patters subbing in five fresh bodies throughout the game and UNC played better for stretches but didn’t press as much as they did in the first half especially on the defensive end.
Marcus Paige did a much better job of pushing the ball down the court with long passes for easy buckets and finished with seven assists.
UNC never really cleaned it up in a sloppy second half but that never really mattered as they led by at least 28 the entire half.
A nice trend that continued was the percentage of assists to made field goals for Carolina who started out with 15 assists on 17 first half field goals and 30 of 31 overall. The magic number tonight was ten as ten Tar Heels scored, ten had at least one assist, ten had a rebound, ten had a steal when the walk ons were brought onto the court.
Final Score: UNC 78 ETS 55
As we thought going in this wasn’t a game in which the opponent had little to no chance to actually win the game, this was about building. We saw how good Carolina can be in the first half and also how sloppy they can be in the second half.