After the roller coaster, which is the North Carolina season so far, went from losing at UAB to winning at Michigan State, it leveled out with an easy 81-50 over UNCG.
Not surprisingly, the Tar Heels got off to a sluggish start offensively but not one stemming from a lack of effort, interest or focus. UNC played solid basketball in terms of overall execution but the shots simply wouldn't fall. Eventually UNC opened up a 19-13 lead then went on a 25-1 over the final eight minutes of the half to take a 44-14 lead into the locker room. The first half run was largely fueled by an outstanding defensive effort with UNC scoring 20 of its 44 points off UNCG turnovers. UNCG did not score over the final 5:33 of the half, something J.P. Tokoto said they took as a goal during the last TV timeout of the period.
The second half followed a similar pattern seen when UNC had a huge lead over Oakland. UNCG came out hitting shots on the offensive end nearly matching their first half point total in the first four minutes of the half. The Tar Heel lead slipped to 21 points before UNC reasserted itself with a mix of scoring from Nate Britt and James Michael McAdoo. For the most part UNC was on cruise control to close out the game. It was the kind of ho-hum, taking care of business game this team probably needed given the up and down nature of the season so far.
Across the board UNC got a balanced effort. Brice Johnson led the Heels with 14 points on 6-10 shooting. James Michael McAdoo overcame a rough start shooting the basketball to finish with 13 and even had a decent day at the free throw line going 5-8. Marcus Paige continues to struggled a bit with his shot. He ended up with 12 points and had a nice five point burst late in the second half but was only 4-12 from the floor. He more than made up for it with eight assists versus one turnovers. Nate Britt and Kennedy Meeks closed out the double figures scoring for the Heels. Britt continues to look more comfortable and was aggressive in this game taking the ball to the basket. Yes, it was against a team not know for its defense. Still the 11 points and four assists on 5-10 shooting is a nice bit of progress for the freshman. Meeks was very good on the offensive end scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds. On the defensive end, UNCG had no qualms about going at him with smaller players and getting decent looks. While his offense was certainly key in the Tar Heels first half production, the defense is still a major concern and will likely limit his minutes.
Overall, this was a solid effort given the questions about UNC's effort against teams like UNCG, UAB, etc. Both Roy Williams and the players indicated there was concern about being sure the effort and intensity level remained consistent regardless of the opponent on the floor. They largely passed the test in this one with an even bigger one coming next Saturday when Kentucky comes to town.