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Friday, January 27, 2012
TMA: Bullock, White cheered in new roles

By Robbi Pickeral

The Morning After: Thoughts, notes and anything else that didn’t quite make this space after North Carolina’s latest game (in this case, No. 8 UNC's 74-55 win over rival NC State on Thursday night at the Smith Center).

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- It’s hard to judge who got the bigger roar during eighth-ranked North Carolina’s 19-point win over NC State on Thursday night: sophomore Reggie Bullock after he was introduced as a starter for the first time in his career or freshman Stilman White after he checked into the game as the new backup point guard.

Reggie Bullock
Reggie Bullock had a solid debut as a starter, ending up with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Either way, both filled in admirably for former starting shooting guard/reserve ballhandler Dexter Strickland, out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

“Basically, like I played off the bench, I needed to start off that way, and play like that all game,’’ Bullock said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

He succeeded. Not only did the 6-foot-7 athlete help hold NC State’s leading scorer, Scott Wood, to a 4-for-12 outing, he chipped in with 11 points (with three 3-pointers), plus five rebounds and three assists.

White, meanwhile, came off the bench for the first time with 12:34 to go in the first half. In five total minutes, he finished 1-for-2 (with a 3-pointer), plus an assist (to help Tyler Zeller on a 3-point play) and a foul.

“It was really great to get out there for the first time in that type of situation,’’ said White, who had previously played only nine minutes in ACC action. “In the beginning, I was [nervous], but for me, it was just a matter of getting comfortable out there. And now that I’m comfortable out there, it’s a matter of gaining confidence.”

Coach Roy Williams said that he was pleased, for the most part, with both of the guards’ play. And he liked how he managed starting point guard Kendall Marshall’s minutes (34), using White around timeouts to help give the sophomore a longer breather.

He said the rotation, without Strickland, remains a work in progress but that his team can still shoot better, run more, and play even better defense than it did Thursday night.

A FRUSTRATING STREAK: UNC has now beaten the Wolfpack 11 straight times, meaning Wood, a junior, has yet to top the Tar Heels. How frustrating is that, he was asked after his team’s latest loss.

"I don't know. Has your wife ever cheated on you?" he responded.

The he paused roughly four seconds.

"That's probably about how frustrating it is, probably."

BRIEFLY: Marshall finished with 11 assists, the eighth time this season he has posted 10 or more, and the 14th time in his career. He now has 422 assists as a Tar Heel, passing Walter Davis (409) for 13th place at UNC. … Sophomore forward John Henson blocked five shots, the 17th time in his career he has blocked at least that many in game. Henson now has 243 swats and needs only three more to pass Sam Perkins for second place at UNC. … The Tar Heels pushed their home winning streak to 30 games, extending the school record.

Correction: Scott Wood is a junior, and the text of this post has been updated to correct that fact.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.