I would agree with Roy Williams' assessment of his team. There were definite signs of improvement in various aspects of the Tar Heels' play. Yes, the free throw shooting was beyond awful as was the offense in the first half. UNC bounced back in both areas to post respectable second half totals as the Heels extended an eight point halftime lead into a 80-56 win over Florida Atlantic.
One of the most notable improvements over the last game was the offensive play of Reggie Bullock who scored 16 points on the strength of three 3-pointers. Bullock chipped in four assists and three rebounds to round out his day. Williams indicated after Friday's game he wanted Bullock to be more assertive on the offensive end. The junior wing forward answered the call, hitting a three out of the gate and missing only one shot on the day. James Michael McAdoo followed up his 26 point, 14 rebound performance on Friday with 19 points and 11 rebounds in this one for his second double-double in as many games. McAdoo has looked very good with the only complaint being he could be more efficient with his shot. After two games, McAdoo is under 50% from the field and could stand to be better.
In addition to the play of Bullock and McAdoo, Joel James and Brice Johnson both had outstanding games. James had 11 points and 8 rebounds while Johnson scored 12 points and four rebounds. Johnson has been a nice surprise so far this season. It long speculated that James could be an effective contributor but no one was sure about Johnson. His thin frame had a lot to do with that and that might be a factor against better competition but so far he has exhibited some nice skills around the basket.
On the perimeter Marcus Paige was 1-8 from the floor but did have his first six assists as a Tar Heel against three turnovers. The other three perimeter players, Dexter Strickland, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald struggled to score though the latter pair did finally each hit a three. Strickland had just four points and was 2-6 from the free throw line. Obviously UNC needs more from these three but the season is still young.
At this point, I have chosen not to draw too many conclusions about the team defense. Games against teams ranked in KenPom's mid-200s are not good test cases for how a team performs on the defensive end(this is also true on offense but to a lesser extent.) When judging a defense it is difficult to tell if a team's offensive efficiency is sub-par because of something UNC was doing or because the other team is simply not as good. That being said, UNC has shown plenty of energy and effort on defense including being very active on the boards. Obviously UNC enjoys some size advantages however there are some positive signs on the defensive end that need to bear out when the level of competition improves.
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