If you want to take out a positive out of last night’s game between Davidson (4-8) and #14 North Carolina (8-3) is that the Heels played well in all facets in the last 12-15 minutes. Problem being there was plenty of basketball to be had way before then. However, after needing overtime, UNC was able to prevail in this one by the final of 97 to 85.
From the get go Carolina started out stagnant, and besides some offensive rebounds and a trifecta by J.P. Tokoto there was not much to rave about the Heels as the first television time out came about. The second year player under head coach Roy Williams also had another put back (see gif on left) that helped spark the team and the crowd.
One thing that I do have to say, sophomore forward Brice Johnson, who fouled out with just two points and five rebounds on the night, had once again a bad reaction to a referee’s call early on in the game. Johnson, who started for the hurt Joel James, hard bounced the ball against the hardwoods over and over after a call against him. This is the second time in two games that the young man reacted in a not-so right way to a call. Hopefully it will also be the last time he does. If UNC is going to make some sort of a run they will need all their players focused, including their third best scorer.
James McAdoo on the other hand was a driving force for the Heels in this game. Scoring 19 points on the night, giving him a total of 902 career points at UNC (76th overall), to go with seven rebounds (472 ~ 54th) and a career high five assists. But most of all the junior forward worked hard on both sides of the ball, and shot decently from the charity stripe, going 9 for 14. The 6’9″ forward also took three charges on the game. If there was a down side to McAdoo it was the small incident between himself and Davidson’s Jordan Barham. The good side of it was that it seemed to end just as quickly as it began and the junior kept pounding away for the whole game.
The other big man, coming off the bench, freshman Kennedy Meeks also scored in double digits, having 13 in all, including going 6 for 6 from the field. The first year player added four rebounds in this game. In the 16 minutes the freshman played well on both side of the ball.
The high scorer of the night for North Carolina was J.P. Tokoto, who had a double double on the night, scoring 22 points to go with 11 rebounds (4 of them on the offensive side). Both of these career high for the sophomore perimeter player. Tokoto made 5 of 6 free throws, his best performance with at least five attempts. There is no way of denying that Tokoto is as athletic as anyone in college basketball. If that talent can be matched up with a player that can be constant shooting the ball and not a liability at the charity line and Tokoto could be compared to a former Heel… Vince Carter.
“My role has been the same: attack the boards, be an offensive threat when needed, be a defensive stopper for coach and the team,” Tokoto said. “Whatever we need, be that person. I had it in my mind I was going to be it with P.J. or without him.”
The back court of freshman Nate Britt and sophomore Marcus Paige both scored in double digits, with the former having 11 and the latter 17. However Paige was scoreless for the first 32 minutes of the game, and 11 of them coming in the overtime period. Senior Leslie McDonald, who fouled out with about a minute and a half to go in the game, scored nine points. With those points the senior is now 99th on the career points list.
In all there were eight Heels that got double digit minutes in this one. Unfortunately, due to the tight game Paige once again got way too many minutes, leading all players with 41. Other three had 30+, McAdoo (38), Tokoto (35) and McDonald (30). The others went all between 14 and 23 minutes.
As we all know, North Carolina is one of the worst free throwing shooting team, but in the overtime the squad was outstanding, going 11 for 12 (91.6%). The team as a whole went 34 for 47 (72.3%). If they can continue to shoot better with the passing games this team might be able to stay away from being the worst free shooting team in the program’s history.
Late in the second half it was Davidson with the momentum, but thanks to full court pressure and easy lay ups coming off of them swung the pendulum back in North Carolina’s way. Having said all of that, with about 30 seconds to go the Wildcats had the ball with the game ties up at 79. Guard Brian Sullivan could not hit his 8th three pointer of the match up and the game went into overtime. While it is easy to say that the Davidson guard missed a trifecta to win the game, the reality is also that the UNC defense on the opposing back court player was stifling and took a lot out of his legs in the last part of the game.
In all, in the first forty minutes, there were nine ties and 14 lead changes. That would not be the case in the last five minutes, as Davidson didn’t do much, while North Carolina just kept going, seeming to have more energy and the momentum on their side. In the end it would be the Tar Heels taking this one by the final of 97 to 85. It is quite surprising that a winning program such as North Carolina is only 58 and 51 when playing extra time, and just 8 and 7 under coach Williams in over time games.
This game felt like it was a tale not of two halves, but of many small runs. Davidson would make a small run, then North Carolina would take the lead back and make their own little run. The biggest last by the Wildcats in the first forty minutes was of five points, while the Heels were able to reach a spread of nine points. It was definitely not the path I thought that this game would take, and while most will once again see an up and down team, the reality is that UNC was able to overcome a bad game by it’s third best scorer and a drought by its best one for over 30 minutes and beat a team that is both well coached and hit well from beyond the arc.
Lastly, I would like to say that it was nice, even if surprising, to see junior P.J. Hairston still on the bench for the Tar Heels. Jay Williams, who announced the game on ESPNU, said that in his opinion the shooting guard should either go to Europe or in the NBDL to get experience at the next level. I do agree with that, and hope that for Hairston this is but a bump in the road and will continue to thrive in his basketball career. Unfortunately it just won’t be in Chapel Hill.