After a quick offensive spurt by UNC to begin the game, a double-digit lead became a nip and tuck affair.
A 4-19 performance from behind the three-point line by the Tar Heels in the first half helped to keep Nike hanging close. A more patient offense proved to be effective in pulling away in the second half.
"It's hard when you have open three's to pass them up," explained UNC head coach Matt Doherty, "but we have to discipline ourselves... I think we were more disciplined in the second half. We wanted to drive it more and get fouled more, and I think that was really a big help because I think we ended up shooting 17 foul shots in the second half, and we only took five three's in the second half, compared to 19 in the first half. We did a good job of getting the ball inside and getting fouled, and I think that was the key to the game."
Sophomore shooting guard Brian Morrison helped to fill the scoring void left by Joseph Forte by adding 20 points. He showed flashes of his helter skelter play from last year, but for the most part, he played under control, dishing out five assists to three turnovers.
"I tried to work on that during the summer--slowing down and making good decisions," said Morrison. "It's paid off. I feel I'm composed and can concentrate on the floor more.
"My freshman year I was nervous with college. I think I'm just a lot more poised. That year helped me, and it has paid off."
His 4-8 shootingfrom three-point range paced Carolina, and he shot 6-6 from the free-throw line.
"I definitely feel comfortable out there [shooting the three]," added Morrison
Morehead Scholar Will Johnson, filled in for the injured Jason Capel, who is suffering from a pulled hamstring, by adding seven points and 15 rebounds. He battled tooth and nail for every single one of the 15 boards.
"Will is a beast!" exclaimed Kris Lang. "He's a monster. He out-rebounded me for crying out loud.
"That's good to see from Will Johnson because it shows that our team is versatile and on any given night anybody can do something great."
"I always enjoy banging heads," quipped the junior Hickory native of his performance.
"He played his butt off," remarked teammate Brian Morrison. "Fifteen rebounds is a lot of rebounds. He went in there, hustled, and just battled in there. It was fun to watch... He's good enough to be [on scholarship]. Just because he's a Morehead doesn't mean he's not good."
The perimeter defense looked improved over last weekend's performance, a 31-point loss to EA Sports, but there is still work to be done.
"We're getting driven too much," explained Matt Doherty. "I thought we were quicker than we are, but part of it is we are playing against some pretty talented players. All those guys were the best players on good college teams... We've got to do a better job. Maybe we've got to back off a little bit, give a little more ground, and keep them in front of us, instead of trying to pressure them out 25 feet from the basket."
The four freshmen continued to struggle on offenese, hitting a combined 4-19, but Kris Lang was always there to offer encouragement in spite of the woeful shooting.
"I want them to shoot the ball," remarked Lang. "We need that. Plain and simple, I want them to shoot it. They need the confidence because we are going to rely on them a lot this year."