If you were only able to watch through the first timeout on Thursday, then don't worry, because that was enough to establish a pretty clear picture of how North Carolina’s tournament opener would turn out. When that first whistle blew at the 15:53 mark, the Tar Heels led 12-2 and had as many offensive rebounds (5) as Hofstra had field goal attempts and rebounds combined.
That lead increased to 36-18 seven minutes later and North Carolina eventually entered the locker room at halftime with a 58-33 advantage.
Dexter Strickland’s transition lay-up with 8:43 left put 82 points on the scoreboard, which momentarily served as the most points scored by UNC in a game during the 2010 calendar year. North Carolina’s 107 points are its most scored in a game since a 108-91 victory over Maryland on Feb. 3, 2009.
Barnes knocked down four of his five 3-pointers and also grabbed seven rebounds for the Tar Heels. Leslie McDonald (5-of-9, 4-of-6 3-pointers) tied his career-high with 16 points and John Henson posted his second-straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Zeller (11 points, eight rebounds), Dexter Strickland (11) and Justin Watts (career-high 13) also scored in double-digits for UNC.
Larry Drew and Kendall Marshall provided a solid 1-2 punch at the point, combining for 15 assists against just three turnovers.
Reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year Charles Jenkins led all scorers with 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and Mike Moore added 15 points and five rebounds for Hofstra.
UNC connected on 56.3 percent of its field goal attempts (40-of-71) while holding the Pride to 41.3 percent (26-of-63). The Tar Heels outrebounded their opponent, 50-29.
INSIDE THE GAME
Less than four minutes had elapsed on the game clock when Harrison Barnes pulled up and drained his first 3-pointer. Three possessions later, fellow frosh Reggie Bullock knocked down a 3-pointer. Leslie McDonald then got into the mix, followed by Bullock and Barnes connecting from deep yet again.
And on and on it went.
If the game had ended at halftime, North Carolina would have tied the school record for 3-point field goal percentage in a single game with identical results – UNC connected on 8-of-9 3-pointers against Stetson on Dec. 3, 1986.
“Basically, it’s pretty easy – we started out making a bunch of shots,” head coach Roy Williams said. “Harrison was 4-of-4 and our whole team was 8-of-9 from three in the first half. It’s hard to guard somebody if they’re doing that kind of thing because it opens up so many things for everybody inside.”
McDonald hit an early 3-pointer in the second half to move North Carolina to 9-of-10, but the long-range artillery cooled off from that point as UNC finished 12-of-17. North Carolina’s best percentage performance from 3-point territory last season occurred against Marshall on Dec. 22 in connecting on 7-of-11 attempts for a 63.6 percent mark.
McDonald, who tied Barnes for the team-high in made 3-pointers, points to a contest among teammates as a reason for the success beyond the arc.
“We try to see who makes the most shots,” McDonald said. “Not shoot the most, but just make the most. This little competition between us is really helping us out because we really focus on trying to make the shots.”
Barnes and Bullock were expected to dramatically improve UNC’s perimeter shooting this season and they showed why against Hofstra, combining to knock down six of their eight 3-point attempts.
“Everything looks so much better when the ball goes in the basket,” Williams said.
On the Defensive
North Carolina’s ability to outrebound Hofstra (22-13) and force 10 turnovers in the first half may have masked the Pride’s 51.9 percent field goal percentage (14-of-27) to the crowd, but it didn’t slip past the program’s Hall of Fame head coach.
“We can get so much better defensively,” Williams said. “My gosh, in the first half we were awful defensively.”
Things improved after halftime, however, as the Tar Heels held Hofstra to 33.3 percent on 12-of-36 shooting, including a 2-of-6 mark from 3-point range. The key to that improvement was UNC locking down Jenkins, who blistered the Heels for 20 points in the first half.
North Carolina sent a wave of defenders at Jenkins – Strickland, McDonald and Barnes – and Zeller was solid in defending the ball screen.
“I said, ‘We’re probably not going to completely shut him out, but let’s try to cut his percentage down,’” Williams said. “At half, he was 9-for-11, so in the second half he was 2-for-7. It’s hard to do that – he played 36 minutes with different guys going at him all of the time.”
After making nine of Hofstra’s 14 field goals in the first 20 minutes, Jenkins made only two of his team’s 12 baskets after halftime.
This week marks the Tar Heels’s first appearance in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and they have already made their presence felt in the record books after 40 minutes of play.
Against Hofstra, UNC set seven team tournament records – points (107), points in a half (58), field goals made (40), field goals attempted (71), field goal percentage (56.3), 3-point field goal percentage (70.6) and assists (29).