CHAPEL HILL–The Tar Heels took down the Braves of UNC-Pembroke Friday night in their only warm-up act before the regular season begins next week.
The atmosphere was especially electric for an exhibition contest against UNC-Pembroke inside the Dean Smith Center Friday night. The rain outside couldn’t touch the sunny action inside as the bright lights shone on a night of question marks for the Tar Heels.
P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald both were ruled out for the game due to ongoing NCAA discussions the school is having on their eligibility. Tokoto was also on the bench due to improper filing of paperwork issues in offseason games.
McAdoo wasted no time getting going for the Tar Heels as he scored their first four points of the contest, with the latter two coming on a nice breakaway dunk.
You could tell the game was an exhibition affair with some sloppy minutes of play being turned in by both squads. A two-point conversion by McAdoo added more points for the Tar Heels.
And at the 14:48 mark left in the first quarter, it was the Tar Heels up 10-2 on the visiting Braves.
Desmond Hubert got in on the scoring next with a nice conversion to put Carolina up 12-4.
Luke Davis connected on a long heave from three-point land to extend the Tar Heel lead. The physical play of Carolina was evident and definitely getting to the men dressed in black.
The free throw line was becoming a familiar locale for the Tar Heels. That was music to the ears of Head Coach Roy Williams.
Nate Britt was becoming a factor on the defensive end with four steals just midway through the first half of play. Hands in the face on the defensive end for the Tar Heels kept UNC-Pembroke at bay and off kilter on their shot accuracy.
Brice Johnson threw his name over the loud speaker, connecting on a jumper to put Carolina in front 25-10.
Jackson Simmons earned a trip to the charity stripe with 6:53 left in the first half and connected on both shots to up the score to 34-14. Great defensive efforts by the Tar Heels were really noticeable and acknowledged by the half-full Dean Dome crowd.
At 5:22 left before halftime, Carolina remained perfect from the free throw line at 12-12.
A sloppy pass from Luke Davis turned the ball over and gave the Braves and easy scoring chance as Carolina was sluggish to get back on defense.
A time out was called with 3:45 left in the half and the score residing at 38-18.
The Tar Heels seemed to fall asleep following the stoppage of time before McAdoo awoke the crowd again with a bucket to halt the back-to-back scores by the Braves.
Pembroke was going on a little run to close within sixteen points before McAdoo powered his way to a foul and a trip to the free throw line. He made one of the two.
At halftime, Carolina was ahead 43-24 after a buzzer-beating conversion by Simmons.
The stats sheet displayed one player that popped off the page. James Michael McAdoo went 5-6 for 13 points. Desmond Hubert was next in line with six points of his own. For Pembroke, it was Quamain Rose who led the charge with eight points.
Carolina was 8-15 with shots in the paint while Pembroke was 6-11 inside the paint.
The second half opened with some scrappy play from the Braves, playing tight defense and driving to the rim on the offensive end to tighten the gap to 15 on the scoreboard.
But Brice Johnson took a beautifully thrown ball by McAdoo and drove it home to set the score back at 45-31 with 18:20 left in the game.
Marcus Paige fired up the crowd by nailing a wide open three-point jumper. Sloppy play on the rebounding end continued for the Tar Heels as they failed to put back second and third attempts at the basket.
A time out was called with 15:58 left in the game and Carolina’s lead was trimmed down to 12 at 48-36.
Brice Johnson slammed a dunk off Nate Britt’s missed attempt to illicit a loud roar from the Tar Heel faithful. Following that, Freshman Kennedy Meeks, largely quiet in the contest, scored on an end-bounds pass.
The Braves were really starting to find some gaps in the Carolina defense, even narrowing the margin to ten points at one point before Meeks scored and added the point after from the charity stripe to push the Tar Heels back ahead 57-44 with 12:50 left in the game.
Alex Bradley for Pembroke was all over the floor, creating some disruption on the defensive end. He made life difficult for the Carolina offense at times with his speedy play.
Rose got the shooter’s roll on a long-range three to get the Braves back within ten of the Tar Heels. A time out was called with 11 minutes remaining.
The shots weren’t falling for Carolina. The confidence was growing in the minds of the Braves roster as they hung around late into the second half.
Rose hit a three-pointer to close within seven, but then the Tar Heels answered with a score by Hubert at the other end as Carolina continued to work the ball inside.
With 8:31 left in the game, the Tar Heels were clinging to an eight-point lead up 61-53.
Coach Williams was fuming from the bench as Carolina continued struggling to get the ball through the nets.
But it was time for McAdoo to take the game over with back-to-back scores to ignite the crowd and gain another sizable lead.
Joel James earned a trip to the free throw line and knocked down both to place the Tar Heels up 67-54 with 6:58 left on the clock.
McAdoo was clearly taking over the game as the clock was winding down on another Carolina victory.
Meeks tossed one threw the nets off an assist by Marcus Paige. The Carolina defense was putting the clamps down on the Braves scoring attack. They had come alive. And an easy lay-up by Johnson extended the lead to 73-54 with 4:36 remaining.
With 1:37 left on the clock and a time out called, it was the Tar Heels with a 79-57 lead.
The final count stood at 82-63 as the players trotted off the court to enthusiastic cheers from those in attendance.