Holy Cross-North Carolina Preview
As the future eligibility of two of their top players remains unclear, North Carolina returns to the floor Friday night looking to continue its winning ways.
The No. 12 Tar Heels will host Holy Cross in the first round of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off, though it will still have forward P.J. Hairston and guard Leslie McDonald on the sideline in street clothes instead of in uniform.
Hairston and McDonald both had to sit out the season opener as they are under NCAA investigation for different off-court violations. While it was announced Thursday that the two would have to miss this game as well, their status going forward has yet to be determined.
A team spokesman said there is no timetable for a decision and that the school is "still working together" with the NCAA in an ongoing process.
"It's what it is," coach Roy Williams said. "Everybody's trying to do their best. We're trying to move along."
Without Harrison and McDonald - two of their top 3-point shooters - North Carolina will again look to James Michael McAdoo to help atone for their absences. The junior forward had 21 points and nine rebounds in the season-opening 84-61 victory over Oakland last Friday.
McAdoo, whose 14.4 scoring average last season was second on the team to Hairston (14.6), finished 9 of 13 from the field after shooting 44.5 percent as a sophomore.
"Really, my role is just to do a little bit of everything, but just lead by example," McAdoo told the school's official website. "I don't have to score 100 points or grab 50 rebounds, but just go out there and do what I can do each game. Trying to pick up the slack, as well as everyone else is."
Marcus Paige added 14 points and fellow sophomore J.P. Tokoto scored a career-high 13 as he got his first career start in place of Hairston.
"I'm honestly extremely frustrated," Paige said of the situation with Hairston and McDonald. "I know a lot of us are. It's tough. It would just be nice to know, so we can move on. But that's not in my power."
The Tar Heels (1-0) shot 60.0 percent from the field and assisted on 25 of their 33 baskets. They took control in the first half, scoring 58 points and holding Oakland without a field goal for more than nine minutes.
Given the off-court distractions, it was a start Williams was pleased to see.
"The kids were invested, they were into it," he said. "You have to really push it, push it, push it with your intensity level, and don't make silly mistakes."
The Crusaders (1-1) face a daunting task, as non-conference opponents outside the Top 25 have not fared well recently at the Dean Smith Center. The Tar Heels have not lost at home to an unranked, non-ACC team since Feb. 20, 2002, a streak of 81 consecutive victories.
The schools have split two all-time meetings, but they have not played since 1956.
Holy Cross is coming off a Patriot League-record scoring effort, defeating Sacred Heart 122-118 in double overtime Wednesday. Cullen Hamilton scored a career-high 35 points after being held to nine on 3-of-12 shooting in Sunday's 82-72 loss to Harvard.
Senior center Dave Dudzinski had 25 points in that defeat and scored 26 on Wednesday to go with his 15 rebounds in 49 minutes.
This game kicks off a tournament which could conclude with the Tar Heels facing defending national champion Louisville on Nov. 24 in Uncasville, Conn.