Bullock's winning effort rewarded for UNC
North Carolina’s Reggie Bullock became the first Tar Heel this season to be named the ACC Player of the Week after the junior forward personally outscored Maryland 21-20 in the first half of UNC’s 62-52 win Saturday.
Besides Bullock (who finished with a career-high 24 points), the dominant first-half effort was also led by sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, whose 11 points and five rebounds put him well on his way to his first double-double in seven weeks.
“(In the) first half Reggie and James Michael did carry us, no question about that, and they should,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “They’re the most experienced players and the guys that we asked to do more.”
It’s a good thing for the Tar Heels (12-5, 2-2 in the ACC) that Bullock and McAdoo excelled – the rest of the team struggled against the Terrapins, especially on the offensive end.
Coming off a career-high 23 points in the previous game against Florida State, sophomore P.J. Hairston scored just three points on 1-of-8 shooting and turned the ball over three times.
“He has a wide open 3 (coming off) two screens, everybody on our bench wanted him to shoot the ball, so he faked the shot and drove in among 77 guys (and) turned it over,” Williams said.
Hairston, who did have four rebounds and three assists, was hardly the only Tar Heel who went cold on offense. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige scored only two points on 1 of 7 shooting. Dexter Strickland made two lay-ups but missed all four of his jumpers (and two of his four free throws). And centers Desmond Hubert, Brice Johnson and Joel James combined to go 3 for 12.
Even UNC’s stars couldn’t get much going offensively in the second half. McAdoo’s eight second-half points came off dunks or offensive rebounds, and Bullock was held to three points on six shots.
When asked if he wanted Bullock to shoot more, Williams said: “I wanted him to shoot it every time the first half. I didn’t want him to shoot a single freakin’ time (in the second half). … It’s not about shooting, it’s about making.”
In the end, Bullock and McAdoo combined to score a season-high 69.4 percent of UNC’s points.
“We’re the leaders of this team,” McAdoo said. “When we go out there and perform well, everyone else kind of just falls into place.”
Theoretically, having Bullock and McAdoo perform well should force defenses to pay extra attention to them, which would then open up more opportunities for the other Tar Heels. That didn’t happen against Maryland, so Bullock and McAdoo may have to carry the offense more going forward, which is fine with Williams.
“If we’re going to be a really good team, our best players have to play,” Williams said. “On the really good teams, the best players don’t play one game and then take five games off. Those are our two leaders on the court, and they have to play that way.”
UNC took Monday off, so Williams is waiting another day before deciding if reserve guard Leslie McDonald can play Wednesday against Georgia Tech at the Smith Center (9 p.m., ESPN). McDonald has missed three straight games with a right knee injury.
“We'll have to watch him in practice tomorrow, and we'll try to make an announcement before Wednesday,” Williams said.