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Monday, November 12, 2012
The Morning After: Free throws, big men

By Robbi Pickeral

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Notes, quotes and other tidbits that didn't make this space after No. 11 North Carolina’s 80-56 victory over Florida Atlantic on Sunday.

FREE THROW WOES: North Carolina coach Roy Williams usually doesn’t say much to his team about free throw shooting.

“But 4-for-14,’’ he said Sunday, referring to UNC’s first-half tally against Florida Atlantic, “I told our coaching staff I was going to jump them. Because you worry about hurting confidence, but how the crap can you get worse than 4-for-14?”

The Tar Heels finished 12-for-27 (44.4 percent) from the line; only forwards James Michael McAdoo (3-for-4)  and Brice Johnson (2-for-3) shot better than 50 percent.

“If I knew what the crap the problem was, I would have already fixed it,’’ Williams said. “We shot 200 free throws in a four-day period last week [and] the lowest on our team was 63 percent. Sixteen guys, 14 of them were about 77 [percent].”

WHO STARTS NEXT? For the second game, sophomore Desmond Hubert (0 points, 3 rebounds) started in the post, only to be replaced by freshman Joel James (11 points, eight rebounds) to start the second half. Williams said after the game it wasn’t a pre-determined move.

“I started Desmond, and if Desmond had played lights-out, I may have started him in the second half,’’ Williams said. “That position is not set in stone. It’s not the most physical, best lineup in the world with James Michael and Brice in there, but that is a possibility also. But right now Joel and Desmond are going to get most of the time there, and then Jackson [Simmons] in there at times is not going to be bad either. But right now, the focus is more of Desmond and Joel.”

Johnson, by the way, added 12 points and four rebounds.

ERASING THE GOOSE EGG: After a zero-assist career-opener on Friday, it didn’t take long Saturday for freshman point guard Marcus Paige to add a mark to that stat column on Sunday, on a toss to junior Reggie Bullock

“I tried not to think about it too much; I tried to play the game and let what happens happen,’’ he said. “But it came pretty early, so that was able to make me calm and settle me down, because it’s not fun to not have any assists. It was a good feeling to finally get that first one, and hopefully I’ll keep taking care of the ball.”

Paige was 1-for-8 shooting in his second start and finished with six assists, three turnovers, four rebounds and two points.

“Just being out there the second time was different from being out there for the first time, for real, in the regular season,’’ Paige said. “We got out in transition a lot better today than we did in the first game, and I think that helped me make easier decisions with the ball and get guys easier shots. Overall, I was just more comfortable with the offense and more comfortable knowing where people are on the court, so I can deliver on time.”

QUOTE-WORTHY: “I did lose it a couple of times out there today because of just silly mistakes. But the two guys I was yelling at, it was their second college game. But I think if you just allow freshmen to make mistakes and don’t correct them, [or don’t] sometimes correct them in a very vigorous manner, they don’t remember it.” -- Williams

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.