With all the losses from last season's team, James Michael McAdoo knew he would be counted on to significantly contribute this season. In game one, he did more than his share pouring in 26 points and 14 rebounds as North Carolina defeated Gardner-Webb 76-59 on Friday night.
The Tar Heels started off slow, turning the ball over frequently and struggled from the three point line. They turned it over 18 times and went 1 for 12 from threes for the game. They also struggled from the free throw line going 9 for 19 in the game.
Dexter Strickland scored 13 in his first game since an injury midway through last season. Veteran Leslie McDonald also returned from missing significant time due to injury, chipping in 4 points off the bench.
The game saw a number of highly touted Tar Heel Freshmen getting plenty of minutes. Marcus Paige started at point guard scoring 6 but came up with no assists. Joel James, Bryce Johnson and J.P. Tokoto all played double figure minutes off the bench and showed glimpses of why they were blue chip recruits. Four freshmen were on the court at one time in one stretch of the game.
It was not a picture perfect game for North Carolina leading Coach Williams to say, "I'm disappointed in how we played, but I'm not disappointed in my team. I think it was a good night for us, and I think we learned a lot."
After North Carolina opened up a double figure lead late in the first half, they were able to keep the Bulldogs at arms length distance the rest of the way.
Gardner-Webb was led by Donta Harper and Max Landis who had 13 points each.
This Tar Heel team will be a work in progress and will improve as the season goes along. Certainly, with the loss of size from last season's team, they will have to connect from the three point line. P.J. Hairston went 0-5 from behind the arch while Reggie Bullock went 1-3. These are two players who will be counted on for outside shooting this season.
Dexter Strickland was the only other player in double figure scoring aside from McAdoo on the night. He finished with 13 points.
Carolina will be back in action from the Smith Center on Sunday afternoon where they will face Florida Atlantic as part of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The 11th ranked Heels willl be in Hawaii for the tournament starting on November 19.