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UNC 101 Mississippi Valley State 75

At UNC the proper course of the meal is cupcakes followed by biscuits.

The Heels opened the home basketball schedule with a solid 101-75 win over Mississippi Valley State. The UNC frontline looked every bit the NBA caliber frontline we all thought they would be. Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes combined for 52 points with Zeller and Henson both recording a double-double. Barnes had probably his best game of the young season with 18 points, seven rebounds and shooting at 50% from the floor. Barnes was also aggressive and playing the game with a ton of energy. Henson is quickly becoming the biggest surprise(sort of) in the early going here. His turnaround jumper which he can apparently hit as far out as 18 feet is not only unguardable but Henson hits it with a fair amount of consistency. Henson was largely seen as a defensive force but if he continues to operate with this kind of offensive production it makes UNC's frontline even tougher to defend. Add to the Big Three. James Michael McAdoo, who is really beginning to look more comfortable, the Heels frontline is at least as advertised if not better.

Another player who posted a nice stat line was Dexter Strickland. The junior guard scored 13 points, six rebounds and six assists versus just two turnovers. His work at PG is more than enough to spell Kendall Marshall when necessary but in general this was a nice game for Strickland. He is still not a long shooting threat nor should Strickland try to be that. His strength is clearly in transition but the more impressive part if the six assists and six rebounds. Strickland is really settling in finding his strength and doing an outstanding job filling in for Marshall. There was concern in the preseason that UNC's offense might take a hit with Strickland spelling Marshall. That has not been the case so far.

In terms of criticism the free throw shooting was an awful 51%. Hopefully this game will be an aberration and the rest of the season will go better in the free throw department. The shooting from the floor and play in general was a tad sloppy. While the starters were relatively efficient shooting the basketball, the bench was not though I do like seeing that Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston aren't afraid to take shots. They were fairly cold until the end of the game when Bullock and Hairston combined for nine points on threes to put UNC on the verge of 100 points. The ability to hit shots is there from this pair it simply needs to happen more consistently to give UNC the balance it needs. In the same general area is Marshall's shooting which was 0-4. The eight assists versus two turnovers is another solid outing with offensive production still being suspect.

This game allowed Roy Williams to use more bench with no Tar Heel playing more than 25 minutes. I would expect more of the same on Tuesday as UNC works through this four game week.