Nov 8, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto (13) dribbles as Oakland Golden Grizzlies guard Travis Bader (3) defends in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Oakland Golden Grizzlies 84-61 at Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Basketball: Key Takeaways From Oakland


The Tar Heels suited up against Oakland Friday night in Chapel Hill without PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald, but that did not seem to bother the Heels one bit. The Heels came out very strong right from the tip and built a 37 point lead at halftime and went on to win 84-61. This was a very encouraging win for the Tar Heels. They showed some very good things tonight and look to build on that success each game.

Nov 8, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo (43) reacts in the first half at Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

There are some key things to takeaway from this game. First off, James Michael McAdoo came out strong right from the tip. He came out and scored right away. He ended up with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assists, and only 2 turnovers. The stat line was great for McAdoo, but perhaps the most encouraging part of it all must have been the shooting percentage. McAdoo ended up going 9-13 from the field and 3-4 from the free throw line. McAdoo did not force the issue tonight. He let the game come to him and looked phenomenal  doing so.

Oakland played a 2-3 zone for the vast majority of the game. Some would think that with the lack of 3pt shooters at the moment for the Heels that the zone would have caused issues. That was not the case. The Tar Heels moved the ball very well tonight around the zone. On 33 made field goals by the Tar Heels, 25 of them came from assists. Nine players accounted for assists, and three players had over 4 assists.

North Carolina was very aggressive on the glass against Oakland. The Tar Heels pulled down 41 rebounds while holding Oakland to only 22. That is a +19 margin. Rebounding is one of the most important aspects of the game, if not the most important. The Tar Heels will need to keep up the good work on the glass.

Marcus Paige played exceptionally well, whether it was at the 1 or 2. He went 4-7 from beyond the arc finishing with 14 points, dished out 5 assists, and only committed 2 turnovers in 32 minutes played. Nate Britt’s statistics were not as impressive as Paige’s, but he pushed the tempo, made some great passes, and worked well with Paige.

Maybe the most interesting thing to watch is the amount of minutes Joel James and Kennedy Meeks play. Joel James played 14 minutes, went 1-3 from the field scoring 4 points, hauled down 8 rebounds, and only committed one turnover. Kennedy played 13 minutes, scoring 10 points on 3-4 shooting and 4-4 shooting from the line, pulled down 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. At this point, Kennedy seems like the more effective offensive option at the center spot, but it is still very early.

JP Tokoto has improved, and by a great deal. His jump shot looks much improved and looks much more confident. He scored 13 points in the first half. His athleticism showed when rebounding at attacking the basket. He did not score in the 2nd half, but it was an impressive performance by Tokoto, minus the 5 turnovers. At one point in the 2nd half, he committed 3 turnovers in quick fashion, Roy let JP play through his mistakes.

The 2013 freshman class is looking very underrated at this point. Meeks, Hicks, and Britt will be big contributors to the team this season.

The big men stepped up tonight and played well as a whole. The 7 big men combined for 51 out of the 84 points, 32 out of the 41 rebounds, 10 out of the 25 assists, and only 6 out of the 18 turnovers.  Most importantly, all 7 big men combined to go 22-28 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw line. That is 78.6% from the field and 84.6% from the free throw line. This what Roy Williams and Tar Heel fans all around want to see. The big men need to continue to produce at this level, and if they do the Tar Heels will be in good shape.

North Carolina came out fast and looked very strong. They moved the ball well and finished the shots they were supposed to finish. They got the season started right and will look to continue this strong level of play. North Carolina basketball is back and it could not have looked much better.

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