Let's get this out of the way upfront. Mississippi State is not a good team. It is a team cobbled together from a couple of veterans, freshmen and JUCO transfers meaning this is going to be a rough season for the Bulldogs. That doesn't mean this game lacked value for UNC. If anything this game was about confidence. The more a team play well together, sees three pointers go into the basket and wins by a huge margin, the more confident it can be. This is especially true for P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald who have been slow to get it going.
For those two, that no longer appears to be the case. McDonald led all scorers with 21 points and was 6-10 from three. Hairston had 18 points and went 4-7 from three which included hitting a buzzer beater from 75-feet to close out the first half. Reggie Bullock also was hot from three going 4-5 on his way to 16 points. On the evening UNC went 15-33 from beyond the arc. The 15 threes were the fourth most for a game in UNC history. James Michael McAdoo and Dexter Strickland rounded out the double figure scoring with 10 apiece. With all the three pointer raining down, McAdoo was a very quiet 4-8 from the floor with four rebounds. Strickland was all over the place collecting six steals, dishing five assists against zero turnovers.
Desmond Hubert had his best game of the season with six points and two blocks while looking much more comfortable on the floor. The freshmen did not look nearly as fluid as they had in the previous three games. Joel James, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige all scored two points each. J.P. Tokoto had four but drew Roy Williams' ire with several questionable decisions. There will be some games the freshmen will struggle a bit, especially if the veterans show up the way they did tonight. In reality, that is how it should be. UNC needs to freshman to step up and contribute but the experienced players should be the ones carrying the bulk of the load as they did tonight.
Next up for UNC is Butler which defeated Marquette on a 35-footer at the buzzer. That game is schedule to tip at 8:00 PM EST on Tuesday night.