Sluggish first half doesn't keep UNC from win

Nov. 15, 2013 @ 11:54 PM

North Carolina’s worst fears about playing without its two best shooters were realized in the first half Friday night at the Smith Center.
Fortunately for the Tar Heels, Marcus Paige made enough shots in the second half to avert a major upset.
Paige scored 16 of his career-high 23 points after halftime to lead No. 12 UNC (2-0) to a 62-54 win over Holy Cross (1-2), an undersized team that was picked to finish seventh in the 10-team Patriot League.
With guards P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sitting out once again as the university and the NCAA work to resolve their eligibility issues, the Tar Heels struggled mightily on offense in the first half, shooting just 27.3 percent and going seven minutes without a point. The score at halftime was 25-25.
“I’m not going to enjoy this win,” sophomore forward Brice Johnson said. “That was ugly. That was terrible. I mean, it’s a win at the end of the day, but I’m not going to enjoy it. We could have done a lot better than that. We had 25 points in the first half. That’s not Carolina basketball.”
UNC had made 74.2 percent from the field in the first half of the opener against Oakland, the best shooting performance ever in a half under coach Roy Williams. But against Holy Cross, the team settled for long jumpers and one-pass possessions instead of working for a better shot.
“In the first half we played a lot of “me” ball instead of team ball,” Paige said. “We didn’t share it as much, we didn’t set screens, we didn’t use screens. We just deviated from what we’ve been working on in practice. Second half we were able to take our time and take better shots.”
The team also struggled to find the right combinations. At one point, UNC went with a lineup of freshman Nate Britt, sophomores Luke Davis and J.P. Tokoto and juniors Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons, none of whom have averaged more than three points at UNC. Sure enough, the possession ended when Tokoto airballed a 3-pointer with one second left on the shot clock.
Holy Cross had its own troubles, missing its first seven shots and committing four turnovers in the first five minutes as the Tar Heels jumped out to an 11-1 lead. But the Tar Heels’ seven-minute scoreless stretch allowed the Crusaders to get back in the game.
Holy Cross scored on their final six possessions of the half and went into halftime tied at 25-25 on a pair of free throws by Anthony Thompson with four seconds left.
A 21-point underdog, the Crusaders (1-2) actually took a 3-point lead with 16:39 remaining, and the game was still tied with 13:09 left when Johnson finally put the Tar Heels ahead to stay on a post move. That started a 12-0 run for UNC, with Johnson and Paige combining for 10 of the points.
Johnson, a reserve forward, finished with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting in 18 minutes, his second double-digit performance of the season.
“I had to do something,” Johnson said. “My team was dead. I had to bring some kind of energy to it. I can’t stand playing dead. That was just ugly. I’m going to be honest with you – that was the ugliest first half I’ve ever seen.”
The second half was a lot prettier thanks to Paige, who recorded his first 20-point game as a Tar Heel. Paige was the starting point guard last year, but moved to shooting guard with Hairston and McDonald out indefinitely and is now the team’s only reliable outside threat.
“He was a big-time player for us tonight, he really was,” Williams said. “He’s our best shooters, and the other guys need to work harder to help him get open. He made some big plays for us.”

NOTES – Tokoto, who started in place of Hairston, shot just 2 of 8 but finished with seven rebounds and five assists. … Freshman center Kennedy Meeks had a game-high eight rebounds in 13 minutes. … UNC next hosts Belmont Sunday at 4 p.m. (ESPNU). It will mark the Tar Heels' 400th game at the Smith Center.

 

 

 

No. 12 NORTH CAROLINA 62, HOLY CROSS 54

 

FG

FT

Reb

HOLY CROSS

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Miller

27

2-4

1-2

0-7

3

3

6

Abt

15

0-2

0-0

0-1

0

4

0

Dudzinski

29

4-12

2-4

3-5

1

5

11

Hamilton

26

2-11

2-2

0-3

1

0

8

Burrell

26

3-7

2-2

0-2

1

2

9

Alexander

28

4-9

5-7

2-5

0

2

13

Thompson

24

0-3

7-9

1-4

3

4

7

Green

21

0-3

0-0

0-4

0

1

0

Morgan

4

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Totals

200

15-51

19-26

8-38

9

21

54

Percentages: FG .294, FT .731.

3-Point Goals: 5-22, .227 (Hamilton 2-6, Burrell 1-3, Miller 1-3, Dudzinski 1-4, Abt 0-1, Green 0-1, Thompson 0-2, Alexander 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 7.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Miller, Dudzinski).

Turnovers: 16 (Dudzinski 4, Burrell 3, Alexander 3, Miller 2, Thompson, Green, Hamilton, Abt).

Steals: 3 (Hamilton, Thompson, Green).

Technical Fouls: None.

 

FG

FT

Reb

NORTH CAROLINA

Min

M-A

M-A

O-T

A

PF

PTS

Tokoto

26

2-8

2-4

0-7

5

1

6

McAdoo

29

3-10

5-6

1-4

1

4

11

James

14

2-3

0-0

0-2

0

2

4

Paige

36

8-17

4-4

1-5

3

2

23

Britt

29

0-4

0-2

0-1

3

2

0

Davis

15

0-1

0-0

0-2

2

3

0

Meeks

13

1-3

2-2

2-8

0

1

4

Johnson

18

6-12

0-0

1-5

1

5

12

Hicks

10

1-2

0-0

1-1

0

3

2

Hubert

6

0-0

0-0

1-2

0

2

0

Simmons

4

0-0

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Totals

200

23-60

13-18

8-39

15

25

62

Percentages: FG .383, FT .722.

3-Point Goals: 3-10, .300 (Paige 3-8, Tokoto 0-1, Davis 0-1).

Team Rebounds: 1.

Blocked Shots: 7 (Johnson 2, McAdoo, Hicks, Meeks, Hubert, Paige).

Turnovers: 9 (James 2, Paige 2, Tokoto 2, Britt 2, Hicks).

Steals: 6 (Paige 2, Britt 2, Tokoto, Davis).

Technical Fouls: None.

Holy Cross

25

29—54

North Carolina

25

37—62

A_15,833.

Officials_Brian Dorsey, Sean Hull, Jeffrey Anderson.