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‘Grown-Up’ Tar Heels Travel to Tally for Seminole Battle

By Matt Oakes Posted February 16, 2014 at 9:00 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.– The 17-7 North Carolina men’s basketball team rides a six-game winning streak down to Tallahassee Monday night to take on a 15-10 Florida State team that is coming off a road win at Wake Forest, a team Carolina lost to earlier this season.

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The dynamic duo of James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige has provided a welcome boost to the Carolina offensive attack. The two say their court chemistry is coming together as the season marches on.

But Head Coach Roy Williams says he needs the rest of the team to emerge and bring some offensive production to the table.

“We got to get some other guys to step up and make shots. That’s the bottom line. Other guys got to step up and help us,” Coach Williams says.

Coach Williams pumped up! (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams pumped up! (Todd Melet)

Monday night’s ESPN matchup at 7 p.m. in the Donald L. Tucker Center will be the next opportunity for one of the talented Tar Heel role players to step back into the limelight.

Kennedy Meeks, J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson all have shown bright flashes of brilliance, but Coach Williams says he wants consistent performers.

Consistency is something Coach Williams has seemingly found on the defensive side of the floor. He says the greater intensity from the defense has been the cornerstone to the Tar Heel turnaround.

“Everybody has some big-time strengths and weaknesses up front. We don’t have anybody who is quite as complete as we’d like them to be. But it’s all about the team defense. There was one key position where James Michael just got off in the lane and helped, and we ended up coming up with the basketball,” Coach Williams says.

McAdoo posted 24 points and 12 rebounds Saturday against Pittsburgh. The junior says he’s feeling much more comfortable on the floor these days.

“I’m trying to play at that level throughout the game. I realize I’m not going to be a scoring machine, scoring every time I get the basketball. That’s just not Carolina basketball. When I’m open, just finding the open shots and just taking it upon myself to step up,” McAdoo says.

McAdoo taking it to the rim. (Todd Melet)

McAdoo taking it to the rim. (Todd Melet)

Sophomore guard Paige says the young Tar Heels have matured greatly since the 0-3 start in ACC play. Now sitting in fourth place in conference, Paige says he’s proud of his teammates’ resolve and determination to improve.

“It was extremely frustrating because I was struggling myself as well, and prior to that, I had been playing well the entire year. It was tough, but the way we came together and really decided at that point when we were 0-3 that we were going to make some things happen. I’m happy for my teammates. This young bunch has grown up a lot since then,” Paige says.

Despite Carolina’s improved play of late, escaping Tallahassee with a victory will be no easy task. Although Florida State has been struggling in the ACC with a 6-7 record, the Seminoles have two solid scoring threats in Aaron Thomas and Ian Miller, both of whom are shooting north of 45 percent from the floor.

But the Tar Heels appear to be up to the challenge thanks to a new steadfast commitment to playing hard through 40 complete minutes of basketball.

“I mean, that’s really what it is. We are just coming out with more fire and intensity, more attention to detail on defense. We are taking what we learned on the scouting report to the court. I think that’s one big thing, we are paying attention to what teams like to do and we try to take them,” Paige says.

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