UNC 80, Florida Atlantic 56: The look back on UNC Now

Acarter@newsobserver.comNovember 11, 2012 

— Things are about to become more difficult for North Carolina. But the Tar Heels are 2-0 after their 80-56 victory against Florida Atlantic on Sunday. Let’s get to it … the look back:

Three things to take away from UNC’s victory:

1. There’s Reggie.

Those UNC fans who might have been concerned after Reggie Bullock’s five-point performance in the season-opener can relax. Bullock scored seven of the Heels’ first nine points on Sunday, and his 3-pointer in with about seven minutes to play put UNC ahead by 21. The Tar Heels are going to need Bullock to be a consistent scorer, and he was that against the Owls. He finished with 16 points and made six of his seven attempts from the field. His only miss came from behind the 3-point line, where he was 3-for-4.

2. The free-throw shooting was bad – but it’s not time to panic (yet).

Yes, the Heels were ugly from the free-throw line today, where they made just 12 of 27 attempts (and only 4 of 14 in the first half). But sometimes teams go through weird shooting slumps at the line, and maybe this was just one of those games for UNC. Better to get out of the system now then suffer through these kinds of issues in February at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Of course, it’s possible UNC might just be a bad free throw shooting team. Roy Williams says that’s not the case. We’ll see.

3. This is a good start – but now we’ll learn a lot more about this team.

Seems like UNC’s first two games went about as expected. Some good things, some bad things, some sloppiness, some highlights, some ugly play mixed with some pretty play and it all added up to a couple of lopsided victories against overmatched competition. The Tar Heels didn’t play particularly well on Sunday, nor did they on Friday. But you get the sense they needed to grind through these kinds of games as part of their learning process. Now, during the next week and a half, we’ll start to learn what kind of team this really is. First up is a tough game at Long Beach State on Friday, followed by the trip to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. Followed by … yes, the game at No. 1 Indiana. This should be a fun stretch.

By the numbers:

6 – assists for freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who didn’t have an assist on Friday.

16 – points UNC scored off of offensive rebounds.

17 – shots attempted by James Michael McAdoo. No other UNC player attempted more than nine.

23 – assists for the Tar Heels, who moved the ball better.

24 – offensive rebounds for UNC.

39 – points UNC received from its bench.

41 – points UNC received from its starters.

42 – points for the Heels in the paint, where they outscored Florida Atlantic 42-12.

UNC player of the game: McAdoo. He finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Good chance that Williams can get used to the whole double-double thing. McAdoo had 26 points and 14 rebounds against Gardner-Webb.

Observations and thoughts:

--After finishing his first game without an assist, Paige had a game-high six assists on Sunday. Paige said there was a “big, big difference” in how comfortable he felt on Sunday compared to Friday.

--Desmond Hubert, the sophomore forward, remained in the Tar Heels’ starting lineup on Sunday. But as was the case on Friday, freshman Joel James started the second half in place of Hubert. Williams said he hadn’t planned to start James for the second half of either game, but that it worked out that way because of James’ production in both first halves. Williams said that starting position is still up for grabs.

--The Heels did a nice job defensively against Florida Atlantic freshman guard Stefan Moody, a Parade All-American who arrived on campus as perhaps the Owls’ most heralded freshman in school history. Moody finished with eight points, but was 3-for-12 from the field, with six turnovers.

--McAdoo, who attempted 20 shots on Friday night, again attempted more shots – by far – than any of his teammates. McAdoo was 7-for-17 from the field. No other UNC player attempted more than nine shots.

--I understand the sponsorship and the money involved, but does anyone else think it’s a bit silly that today’s game was branded as part of the Maui Invitational? Regardless of the outcome today, UNC was already bound for Maui next week. FAU never had any path to play for the Maui championship. So why make this a part of the invitational? What’s the point?

Quotable:

“I did lose it a couple of times out there today because of just silly mistakes. But the two guys I was yelling at, it was their second college game. But I think if you just allow freshmen to make mistakes and don’t correct them, [or don’t] sometimes correct them in a very vigorous manner, they don’t remember it.” –Roy Williams

“That’s one of those silly questions and I don’t mean that the way it sounds but if I knew what the crap the problem was I would have already fixed it.” – Roy Williams, on what went wrong at the free-throw line.

“I believe I wasn’t looking for my shot enough. I wasn’t being aggressive enough [against Gardner-Webb]. I had a couple of open looks but the ball, like if I catch it [and it doesn’t] feel right, I just swing it to the next player. But today, the threads came to me and I just shot the ball.” –Reggie Bullock

Up next:

The Tar Heels travel to California to play Long Beach State on Friday at 11 p.m.

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