CHAPEL HILL– The Dean Smith Center was excited for the official start of Carolina basketball as the Oakland Golden Grizzlies visited for a contest that saw Carolina control the game for an 84-61 win.
The start of the game saw James Michael McAdoo score an easy floater and also convert the point after for a quick 3-0 lead for the Tar Heels to the delight of the home crowd.
Oakland matched the score on a three pointer soon after. Carolina was energetic to say the least, grabbing a plethora of rebounds to establish their inside presence early.
McAdoo converted on a two-point play to push the Tar Heel ahead and then he did it again on a break-away chance to get a 7-3 lead for Carolina with 16:54 left in the contest.
The crowd erupted on a great finish by J.P. Tokoto. The Tar Heels were certainly happy to get him back after sitting out for the exhibition affair.
Let there be no doubt. McAdoo was the star of this show early. He scored again to extend the lead to 12-3.
Marcus Paige was dealt a solid pass from freshman Kennedy Meeks, and Paige hit the open three to grab a 17-8 lead.
A time out was called with 14:04 remaining in the first half, but the stoppage in play did nothing to delay the assault on the scoreboard for the Tar Heels. Meeks hit both of his free throws to earn a 19-8 lead.
McAdooo hit a beautiful jumper to continue the Tar Heels’ dominance as Marcus Paige hit a three to push the score to 29-10 with 11:14 left in the first half. What an atmosphere it was. Carolina seemed to be gaining confidence with every possession.
Oakland was having trouble finding their way inside, but on this occasion they got to the charity stripe and converted both attempts.
Nate Britt converted on a running jumper next, but the Carolina defense was sluggish to get back on the next play to allow a quick score by the Golden Grizzlies.
Brice Johnson snagged a nice bucket to gain the approval of Chancellor Folt sitting a few rows back from the floor.
You could tell Carolina was working on free throws in practice as Kennedy Meeks was nailing all of his free throws throughout the contest!
With 7:11 left in the first half, it was the Tar Heels claiming a 41-16 lead over Oakland.
Marcus Paige hit an electric three off an assist from J.P. Tokoto to put Carolina ahead 48-19.
McAdoo bashed home an athletic dunk to incite the crowd once again. Oakland seemed to have no answer for the alert play of the Carolina offense, and a time out was called with 3:39 remaining in the first half. The score was 50-19 in favor of the home Tar Heels.
Brice Johnson slammed a dunk home with authority next as Carolina really assumed full command of the contest in every aspect of the game.
At the half, it was the Tar Heels with a 58-21 commanding lead. The stats sheet read a beautiful 7-10 field goal percentage for James Michael McAdoo to total a team-leading 15 points for Carolina. J.P Tokoto scored 13 points for the Tar Heels and Marcus Paige impressed with 12 of his own while popping four three-pointers.
Joel James found his way to the line to open proceedings in the second half and converted on one of his attempts.
Oakland tried to counter the UNC attack with some crisp passing of their own, but it usually proved unfruitful and Carolina found themselves sprinting to the other end far too often for the Golden Grizzlies to stay within contact.
McAdoo scored a bucket off a great assist from Paige to put the Tar Heels up 63-28 with 15:59 remaining in the season opening contest.
Carolina fell asleep for a few minutes in the second half and those in attendance in the Dean Dome grew restless, encouraging the team to step the level back up.
With 13:23 left, the Golden Grizzlies had closed within a 63-35 score line.
Meeks scored off a solid dump inside by Johnson to set the score at 65-35, and the Carolina defense as alert and on their man as Oakland attempted to get something going.
Brice Johnson scored next off an assist by Marcus Paige, and the Tar Heels were back off and running. They were blowing by the defenders of Oakland at a feverish pace.
Even Jackson Simmons laced one in the hoop off a crisp pass from Isaiah Hicks to place the scoreboard at 73-40 with 7:11 remaining in the game. The Tar Heels were just coasting at this point.
Hubert slammed home an emphatic dunk to once again ignite the exuberant fans. And then McAdoo pushed in a score to flip the score to 79-48 with 3:20 to play.
At the end of this one, Carolina posted an emphatic 84-61 victory to start the season off strong.
CHAPEL HILL– Tonight is the night Tar Heel fans have been looking forward to since the Carolina was bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Kansas in March.
The regular season opener for Carolina basketball will tip off at 9 p.m. against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the Dean Smith Center.
And with P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald still on the bench due to NCAA compliance issues, the Tar Heel lineup will remain intriguing.
Head Coach Roy Williams says McDonald and Hairston have been practicing with the team as they await a resolution for their situation.
“They’ve been practicing and they’ve been practicing really well. The last week I haven’t had them on the first team at any point. I’ve had them on the blue team. P.J. has played about as well at this point in the season as any player I’ve ever had,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says he is comfortable with having both Marcus Paige and Nate Britt out on the floor at the same time. He says he played three point guards while at Kansas to roaring success.
“I think playing two point guards and a hundred years ago in 2002 I started three point guards, and we went all the way to the Final Four. It was one of the most comfortable teams I’ve ever coached, because we didn’t turn it over. I’m comfortable with that,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says Carolina’s success this season will likely hinge on the ability to dominate around the rim and collect rebounds to earn second-chance opportunities.
“Guys got to rebound the ball. If you’re going to play five, you got to rebound the ball and be a factor around the rim,” Coach Williams says.
Free throw shooting has been a bit of an issue for the Tar Heels in recent years, and that’s why Coach Williams says the players have been shooting their fair share of them in practice.
“We’ve had some teams that shot it poorly. We had some teams that shot it great. ’09 we had five guys shoot close to eighty percent. I like that. When you shoot it poorly, it’s not good for you. Everybody on the team shot over 200 free throws last weekend recorded by a manager. One guy shot 67 [percent], and one guy shot 69 [percent]. Everybody else was above 70 [percent], so we just need to keep doing that,” Coach Williams says.
WCHL’s coverage of tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff. In addition, WCHL and Chapelboro.com’s Tar Heel Take team will be on hand to give you an inside look at all the energy and excitement in the Dean Dome.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/roys-remarks-tar-heels-open-season-sans-p-j-and-mcdonald/