This was an odd game. First of all, it was a fairly sloppy game for both teams. 38 total turnovers were committed in this game with UNC owning 20 of them. It was also one of those games where once UNC got ahead by 12-14 points it became a contest of trading baskets. The Heels would move out to 12 points and two UAB threes would make it six. After the half, UAB scored four straight to cut the deficit to two points, UNC moved it back out almost immediately. There was never a point it felt like UNC was in danger of losing but that was because the offense did pretty much what it wanted in the second half.
That wasn't the case in the first half with miscues aplenty and poor shooting. While UNC did take a six point lead into the locker room, the first half was a less than stellar effort. One can only imagine what was said in by Roy Williams at halftime but it worked, at least on the offensive side of the floor. UNC came out blazing in the second half shooting 71% from the floor and 7-11 from three. The Heels also got to the free throw line more often and hit said free throws to the tune of 14-16 in the half and 18-21 for the game. As far as offensive performances go this one was outstanding with six Tar Heels in double figures. Leslie McDonald led the way with 24 points, five assists and 5-8 from beyond the arc. It easily McDonald's best game of the season so far. Reggie Bullock had 17 points and five assists and P.J. Hairston scored 16 points to round out a very productive night from the wing players. James MIchael McAdoo went for 15 points and 12 rebounds after a slow start. Dexter Strickland, starting at PG in place of an injured Marcus Paige, had 11 points and nine assists. Brice Johnson rounded out the double figures scoring with 11 points.
This was an impressive offensive display which has all sorts of caveats attached to it from the fact it came against UAB to the fact it came against UAB who didn't defend the Heels well. Of course the same was true going the other way. UNC's second half defensive effort was piss-poor. Not only did UAB go 7-15 from three in the second half but also found some success in transition. There were plenty of open looks to be had at UNC's expense. The Tar Heels' defense and the turnovers in the second half led to the first jacket removal of the season which is the universal sign of when Roy Williams is frustrated with his team. In the end it didn't matter because UNC's offense was cooking. However, the defense may have more question marks than the offense which is not a good place to be since the offense has yet to prove itself against a team that matters.
At any rate, this game can best be categorized as one where plenty of confidence building things happened but also plenty of things that pissed Roy Williams off. Much of the former had to do with the offense and the latter the defense and turnovers. Regardless of the competition, it helps players to execute the offense and hit shots. It does not guarantee a carry over against better teams but you have to start somewhere. As for all the things that went wrong, it would appear Williams has a reached a point with this team he is going to starting pushing them more. Because it was a young team and also because of his surgery, Williams had been soft pedaling it a little. That clearly went out the window tonight. It will be interesting to see what impact it has.
The Heels get a week off before facing East Tennessee State next Saturday at the Dean Dome.