- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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North Carolina coach Roy Williams had insisted since the beginning of preseason practice that his Tar Heels would be a good outside-shooting team. Finally, during its 78-63 victory at Long Beach State, No. 11 UNC showed that potential.
Turning point: After making three of their first four 3-pointers at the Pyramid, the Tar Heels had missed 13 straight -- and trailed 41-39 just over four minutes into the second half -- when junior Reggie Bullock connected from long distance. It was the first of six UNC 3s during a 23-7 run. The Tar Heels, who shot 10-for-27 from beyond the arc, led by double figures the rest of the way.
Why UNC won: The outside shooting was a big deal, especially since the Tar Heels had made only 7 of 27 3-point shots in their first two games. But forward James Michael McAdoo was a big deal, too. After being slowed by double-teams in the first half, the sophomore got more aggressive in the second half, and finished with a team-leading 18 points and 8 rebounds. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige chipped in 15 points and 4 assists; and sophomore wing P.J. Hairston finished with 14 points off the bench.
James Ennis led Long Beach State with 18 points.
What it means for UNC: With their first road game (and road win) under their belts, the Tar Heels (3-0) should head to the Maui Invitational with a bit more confidence. Paige, in particular, showed more of what he can do; after shooting 4-for-17 over his past two games, he was 6-for-10 (including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers) at LBSU.
What it means for LBSU: Like UNC, the 49ers are trying to replace four starters from last year’s starting lineup. And like UNC, they are still a work in progress. LBSU (1-2) led by as many as six points in the first half, and outscored the Tar Heels 34-30 in the paint for the game. But the 49ers got out-paced on second-chance points (21-11), shot just 36.2 percent and were out-scored on the bench 32-14. Guard Mike Caffey chipped in 14 points and 4 assists.
Star of the game: McAdoo. After starting only three games last season, he is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds over his first three starts this season.
More observations: The Tar Heels continue to tinker with the center position. Although sophomore Desmond Hubert (0 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) started his third straight game, he was also replaced in the second half-opening lineup for the third consecutive game -- this time by freshman Brice Johnson (10 points, 7 rebounds).
What’s next: The Tar Heels will play Mississippi State in the Maui Invitational at 6 p.m. ET on Monday. LBSU visits No. 12 Arizona on Monday for a 9 p.m. ET tip.