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UNC 91, Barton College 80: Tar Heels succeed even without Joel Berry

Exhibition wins are kind of weird.

Denver Nuggets v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Exhibition season is great for seeing your favorite team in action after a long offseason, but it’s bad for drawing too many definitive conclusions. Roy Williams basically threw every version of his possible lineups at Barton College throughout the game, even without the presence of Joel Berry II, and the Heels still came away victorious.

There were definitely some sparkling moments for the guys in light blue. The freshmen bigs impressed in their time on the floor. Garrison Brooks was third on the team in scoring with 13 points in 19 minutes played. Brandon Huffman decided to block every ball within reach of his long arms, finishing with five swats and leading to a nice show of dominance down low. Sterling Manley was very efficient, making all but one of his four field goals and knocking down two free throws in eight minutes.

Filling in for Berry, Jalek Felton was able to play the role of facilitator with seven assists. He only scored five points, but he definitely made his presence felt at the point. He led the way in minutes among the point guard options not named Theo Pinson with 21 minutes. Seventh Woods, for his part, also looked more comfortable on the floor than the last time we saw him.

Luke Maye looked great in his first bit of action this season, leading the team in scoring with 18 points in 20 minutes. Theo Pinson also made it into double figures with 14 points. As he always does, Pinson filled the stat sheet with three assists, two blocks, and three steals. The team as a whole totaled 14 blocks on the night.

Rebounding, as it was so much of last season, also worked heavily in the Tar Heels’ favor. They out-rebounded Barton 57-37 with Maye leading the way with 11 boards. Cameron Johnson was impressive in his first action as a Tar Heel with 11 points, including a three-pointer, in his time on the floor. Ten players played more than ten minutes for Williams tonight, obviously indicating that the coach was working through different options in what he calls glorified practice.

The main thing to take away from this game is you probably can’t take away much. This team is still finding their identity as one cohesive group, and this is very much the time to do that without worrying too much about the final score. The Heels will get their starting point guard back before too long, and then we’ll be able to figure out more of who they are. In the mean time, enjoy this win.