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"It was good for our players to play somebody different as opposed to beating on each other everyday at practice," Head Coach Roy Williams said. "I think that was a big value for us in a positive aspect that we were able to do some things that the other team didn't know what we were doing. The times we executed our sets it was good, but there were a lot of times we didn't execute. That's something you need a game like this for, game slippage. I think our concentration was up and down the entire game."
The Tar Heels shot 56 percent from the field as a team on the night, hitting seven of 16 from behind the 3-point arc, and held the Eagles to 33 percent. The Heels came up on the short end of a 42-36 rebound margin.
McCants did not start because he had missed five days of practice last week and first practiced a full day on Thursday of this week due to a quadracep injury.
"It was a little nagging," McCants said, "but practice has gone well. I've been playing hard, adjusting, and making the best of it. I'm still a little sore, but I'll fight through anything."
The pace was anything but slow, with defensive rebounds leading to quick outlet passes and defensive pressure leading to turnovers, which turned into transition baskets.
"It's not about scoring a lot of points," Felton said. "We want to get the ball out and score a lot of points, but we also want to defend. You can score a lot of points, but if you let your opponent score too, you haven't accomplished anything. We concentrated on defense and executed on offense."
"Any chance to start a primary break, we are going to try to exploit," McCants said.
David Noel did not play due to a hyper-extended thumb and possibly ruptured tendon and is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, but that could be a benefit in the long term, according to Sean May.
"David is an incredible player," May said. "For him to be out six to eight weeks is tough for us. At the same time, it helps the depth of our team if Reyshawn can emerge or Justin can get some minutes, Byron can get some more experience. When Dave comes back, he'll be an animal."
Melvin Scott chipped in with 12 points and Jawad Williams added 17 points and eight rebounds.
The Tar Heels return to play Thursday, November 13, against Team Nike.
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Center.