P.J. Hairston's misses key to his make?


RALEIGH, N.C. -- Watching P.J. Hairston hit shot after shot during Tuesday’s pregame warm-ups, it looked like the North Carolina freshman guard might finally be primed to end his shooting slump.

But the key to making his first 3-pointer this month, the reserve said after the Tar Heels’ 86-74 win over N.C. State, was actually his warm-up misses.

“It’s a little weird thing with me: I feel like if I miss my first two during the pregame, I feel like I’m going to have a good shooting game,’’ he said, smiling. “I actually missed my first three [shots]. I guess it’s a weird little superstition I look at sometimes.”

Hairston didn’t exactly set the world (or game) on fire with his performance against the Wolfpack, going 1-for-5 overall and 1-for-3 from 3-point land. (He played six minutes.)

But his 3 with 11:31 left in the first half at the RBC Center was his first swish from behind the arc since he made two on Jan. 29 against Georgia Tech.

He is now 12-for-57 overall in 12 ACC games, and 7-for-42 on 3-pointers. But, he said, the sore left foot that kept him out of UNC’s win over Virginia on Feb. 11 is feeling a whole lot better. And so is his morale.

“It was a sigh of relief,’’ Hairston said of hitting his Tuesday shot. “I feel like I haven’t hit a 3 since Kentucky. It felt good, just to see it go through the net.

“I feel like I gained a lot of confidence back. Not that I lost confidence; I was just to the point where I was shooting it, and I was iffy about whether it was going in or not. And now when I shoot, I feel like it’s going in every time I shoot, again.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.