The North Carolina Tar Heels squared off with the Maryland Terrapins after a week off in the Dean Dome looking to bring their conference record to .500 in a pivotal contest. 2014 point guard prospect Joel Berry took in the game from the stands sitting near the UNC bench on his official visit. Berry received a warm welcome with the crowd chanting his name before the opening tip.
Keeping an eye on the rotations, Leslie McDonald missed his third straight game with a knee injury, head coach Roy Williams had expressed some optimism when discussing his injury earlier in the week but that subsided in his Friday press conference. Desmond Hubert got the start at center and it’s looking more and more like he will keep that spot as the seasons wears on. P.J. Hairston was the first off the bench at the 15:25 minute mark, Joel James and J.P. Tokoto entered less than a minute later. Brice Johnson got his first action at the 11 minute mark. And Jackson Simmons got into the game at the nine minute mark after a great performance last week against FSU.
UNC got off to a fast start with an 8-0 run in the first minute and a half of play with tons of energy and hustle on the defensive end and eight quick points from Reggie Bullock forcing an early Maryland timeout. Maryland did not score until the three and a half minutes into the game. Everything went Carolinas way in the first half, on offense they were able to get any shot they wanted on the floor, defensively they did an excellent job fighting through screens, forcing turnovers and getting to the loose balls.
Maryland center Shaquille Cleare committed three early fouls and was forced to the bench half way through the first half in a sloppy first half by the Terps. Maryland turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and committed ten fouls. The terps shot just 9-27 from the field including 0-7 from beyond the arc. UNC contained Alex Len who scored just four first half points on 2-5 shooting and managed just two rebounds.
Score at the half: 42-20 or if you prefer, Reggie Bullock 21-Maryland 20
In the second half the Terps came out out with more energy and attacked the basket with more efficiency starting the half with a 9-2 run cutting UNCs lead to 15. UNC simply did not have the same type of fire they came into the game with settling for jump shots late in the shot clock instead of moving the ball to the open shooter. Defensively they weren’t going all out on ball screens and allowed Maryland to creep back into the game by leaving the passing lanes open allowing the ball to be advanced easily in the half court.
UNC didn’t get much offensively from players not names Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo who were the only two players in double digits as Maryland cut the lead to just 12 with 6:30 left in the game the third leading scorer at that time in the ballgame was Dexter Strickland with just six points.
After a quick 6-0 run the Heels looked to be getting things together with a 17 point lead and just over four minutes to play but Maryland responded with a run of their own to cut it back to 11 and keep things interesting.
An encouraging sign that emerged from this contest was the play of freshman Joel James who looked much more comfortable on both ends of the floor and avoided the silly mistakes that have plagued him all season long.
Final Score: UNC 62 MD 52
Player of the game: From the opening tip this was Reggie Bullocks game. Bullock scored the teams first eight points and ten of their first 11. Bullock scored 21 of the teams 40 first half points. He finished with 24 pts besting his previous career high of 23. But it was James Michael McAdoo who came up big in the second half coming up with big buckets and rebounds when the team needed them the most. McAdoo finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds including five offensive to go with two blocks and steals, and emerged as our player of the game.
Up Next: The Tar Heels face Georgia Tech Wednesday January 23rd at 9pm on ESPN and next Saturday UNC will face a tough test when they head to NC State to take on the Wolfpack at 7pm also on ESPN.