After a first half of poor shooting that saw the Heels only hit 38% from the floor, UNC roared through the second half shooting 61.5%, hitting 5-8 from three and scoring 65 points on the way to an 111-58 win over Division II Fayetteville St. The Tar Heels scored more points in the second half than the Broncos did for the entire game. The starting lineup was Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and freshman Justin Jackson who quickly showed why he was in the lineup.
From a team perspective UNC was a little sloppy for the balance of the game committing 20 turnovers. UNC also ended up committing 27 fouls ending the game with five players with three fouls. The fouls may have been a product of the game itself since Fayetteville State committed 26 fouls for a staggering total of 53. UNC ended up taking 79 shots and outrebounding the Broncos 66-34. The Tar Heels shot 25-37 from the free throw line with seven of the misses split between J.P. Tokoto, Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson.
In lieu of the game's narrative which isn't of much value, here is a quick look at what each player did in the opening game.
Marcus Paige: 14 points, 4-7 FGs, 2-5 3Ps, 2-2 FTs, 2 assists, 2 TOs, 3 steals
Paige hit a three in the first half and had three points at the break, In second half Marcus Paige fashion the junior opened the second half with a three pointer and scored 11 points to finish with 14. The most important number for Paige might be the minutes played. Paige was on the floor for just 16 minutes though three first half fouls probably curtailed his floor time some.
J.P. Tokoto: 6 points, 2-10 FGs, 0-1 3Ps, 2-5 FTs, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 TO, 1 block
Tokoto had a typical Tokoto stat line. He did a lot of little things but not necessarily produced points. Tokoto missed a variety of shots and his ten shot attempts was tied for the team lead. When the season starts in earnest, UNC probably shouldn't have Tokoto leading the team in FGA given he doesn't make them at a consistent rate. Tokoto did not have any spectacular dunks in this game which is always a little disappointing.
Brice Johnson: 6 points, 2-6 FGs, 0-2 FTs, 13 rebounds, 1 steal
Johnson actually had some fairly sloppy moments during the first half. He missed his first four shots and after that only had two more attempts ending the game with just six points. He did dominate the boards pulling down 13 rebounds in 19 minutes of play. UNC appeared to have issues feeding the interior and facilitating the offense through the post players.
Kennedy Meeks: 8 points, 3-6 FGs, 2-2 FTs, 9 rebounds
As noted above the offense on the interior utilizing both Johnson and Meeks didn't pan out so well. The first two Tar Heel possessions saw entry passes to the post deflected for turnovers. Meeks had trouble matching up with the Broncos seven foot center Gatluak Thiep. While Meeks did run the floor well, hit a face up jumper from around the free throw line and convert both his free throws, he had issues working around the basket. He continued to utilized multiple shot fakes and had his shot blocked a couple of times. He did run the floor well showing the weight loss and conditioning has paid off.
Justin Jackson: 18 points, 6-9 FGs, 3-4 3Ps, 3-4 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
Not a bad night for the freshman wing who was introduced as a guard and made the most of his team high 22 minutes. His 18 points led the team but it was his general approach to the game that is most telling. Jackson has great instincts, understands the flow of the offense and works to fit within in it. He is not prone to force a bad pass and has a knack for getting the ball in his hands and scoring with it. By far his feel for the game and his ability to mesh in with the veteran players was the most impressive part of his outing. The obvious caveats apply in an exhibition but Jackson looks every bit like the real deal.
Theo Pinson: 15 points, 6-9 FGs, 2-2 3Ps, 1-1 FTs, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 TOs
Pinson's stat line tells the whole story. He can be productive and as Roy Williams noted, "make things happen" and he can also commit four turnovers trying too hard to make things happen. Pinson had a slow first half with two quick fouls, three turnovers and just three points. The second half was a different story. Pinson's level of play elevated along with the rest of the team. With UNC getting into its preferred tempo, Pinson excelled hitting a pair of threes and scoring around the basket of drives, back door cuts and a follow dunk. Pinson definitely brings an energy level to the game. Coupled with Isaiah Hicks off the bench can be a bit of a spark for the Tar Heels. Speaking of Hicks...
Isaiah Hicks: 13 points, 6-6 FGs, 1-2 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 TOs, 3 steals
Hicks made it very clear in this game he is very excited to be back at the power forward spot instead of on the wing. Hicks was completely at ease playing at his more natural position. He made all six of his shots and three turnovers was the only real negative in the contest. He scored on a variety of shots including a turnaround jumper on the left block.
Joel Berry: 12 points, 3-10 FGs, 0-4 3Ps, 6-7 FTs, 4 assists, 0 TOs, 4 steals
Heading into this game, Berry's role with this team was probably the toughest to figure out. The freshman would have to split time with Paige and Nate Britt in the backcourt so it wasn't clear how much production he would have. After one game, Roy Williams is still shuffling the backcourt a bit but Berry did show some promise. He didn't shoot the ball well going 0-4 from three. He did go 3-6 on two point attempts and using his strength got himself on the free throw line a team high seven times making six of them. On play he drove at a bigger defender, got into his body and got a shot up which missed but it got him to the line. In that respect he is different from Britt who is really much quicker. In some respects Britt and Berry are sort of like having a big running back and a quick running back. Both can give you different things and if they are on the floor at the same time, it provides some options.
Nate Britt: 6 points, 3-8 FGs, 0-1 3Ps, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 TO
Britt had a quiet night for the most part. His newly minted right handed jumper didn't necessarily result in more made jumpers. Britt's best asset is still his speed and he is able to use that in UNC's open court break. He had one coast-to-coast basket which caught the Broncos sleeping on defense.
Desmond Hubert played 11 minutes and had four points, two rebounds. He did actually score on a legitimate offensive move where he caught an entry pass, turned in the lane and hit a hook shot. At the same time he also received passes at the free throw line on two occasions, tried to drive to the basket on one resulting in a charge and on the other left his feet resulting in him getting fouled.
Jackson Simmons, Stilman White and Joel James all saw some action along with walk-ons Sasha Seymore and Justin Coleman. Everyone who entered the game scored except for James who played ten minutes, missed three shots and had four rebounds.
-UNC showed some full-court press at times and was effective in forcing turnovers through it. With UNC's length, athleticism and depth this will likely be used quite a bit.
-Speaking of that depth, 11 Tar Heels had double figures minutes and only two Tar Heels(Johnson and Jackson) played 20 or more minutes. UNC has enough quality depth to make use of a big rotation providing it doesn't disrupt the offensive rhythm too much.
-The first half was a little choppy but UNC's superior talent took over after halftime as well as the shots starting to fall.
-UNC's starting lineup had four players 6-6 or taller with Paige being the only one under that height.
-Roy Williams received a huge ovation when he arrive on the court and spoke at length about the Wainstein Report in his postgame press conference.
-The Tar Heels will play another exhibition on November 7th and open the season on November 14th against North Carolina Central.
Roy Williams Postgame Audio
Brice Johnson FaySt Audio
J.P. Tokoto Audio
Marcus Paige FaySt Audio
*Note: This audio only covers the game. Williams' comments on the Wainstein Report will appear in a separate post.
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