Okay, everybody panic!
UNC dropped the first of two exhibition games in the Bahamas, losing to the Providence Storm 84-83 in a manner eerily similar to the way the Heels lost to Belmont last November. Here is a short recap via UNC:
Ernest Saunders dropped in a three-pointer from the right wing with 18.1 seconds to play to cap a 14-5 run and give the Providence (Bahamas) Storm an 84-83 men’s basketball exhibition game victory over the University of North Carolina Friday in Nassau.
The Tar Heels led 78-70 after a Justin Jackson basket with three minutes to go, but the Storm scored seven straight points, the final three on a long-range jumper by Deandre Auton, who had 17 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
Jackson and Desmond Hubert scored baskets for UNC for an 82-79 lead, the latter on a dunk after a no-look, one-touch pass from Marcus Paige. Eugene Bain’s baseline jumper pulled Providence within a point, then Kennedy Meeks increased Carolina’s advantage to 83-81 after making one of two from the line.
After Carolina made a defensive stop, freshman Theo Pinson missed a pair of free throws with 32 seconds to play. Saunders connected on his three on the ensuing possession to give the Storm its first lead since 51-49 in the third quarter.
The Tar Heels had three shots on their final possession, including a final try from the right corner by Jackson but failed to score.
Here is how the scoring shook out for both teams.
North Carolina (83): Isaiah Hicks (11), Justin Jackson (10), Kennedy Meeks (10), Marcus Paige (9), J.P. Tokoto (9), Joel Berry II (8), Desmond Hubert (8), Theo Pinson (8), Brice Johnson (6), Nate Britt (2), Joel James (2)
Providence Storm (84): Keno Burrows (18), Deandre Auton (17), Eugene Bain (14), Ernest Saunders (13), Shakwon Lewis (10), Jeffrey Henfield (8), Jackson Jacob (2), Dionte Smith (2)
According to UNC, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige both suffered ankle injuries with only Paige later returning. For the game UNC shot 45% from the floor, was 3-for-25 from three and 8-for-20 from the free throw line. In other words, it felt a lot like last season. Paige struggled shooting the ball in general which was obviously a role in the offense sputtering as a whole.
Via Inside Carolina, the only media presence at the game, Roy Williams had the three freshman on the floor with Kennedy Meeks and Marcus Paige in the final minute. That type of move only underscores how much this game was being taken as a learning experience.