ETSU-North Carolina Preview
A pair of favorable home matchups might present North Carolina
with a good opportunity to improve its overall defensive play.
The No. 20 Tar Heels look to focus on that end of the court
Saturday night when they host East Tennessee State.
Coming off an 83-59 loss at top-ranked Indiana on Nov. 27, North
Carolina (6-2) bounced back with a 102-84 home win over UAB last
Saturday. Though the Tar Heels shot 52.9 percent and topped 100
points for the second time in three games, they also allowed 55
second-half points and found themselves trading baskets with the
Blazers much of the night.
“Offensively we did some nice things,” coach Roy Williams said.
“We have guys who can shoot the ball. … Defensively we weren’t
very good, but we’ve got to continue to work on it.
“Everything looks pretty when the ball goes into the basket
except when the other team’s got it and keep getting up good shots
Williams’ young and impressionable squad averages 84.1 points
overall but has yielded 79.8 per game while splitting its last four
contests. That stretch began with an 82-71 loss to Butler at the
“We just have to do better and work as a team,” said senior
guard Dexter Strickland, who had 11 points and nine assists versus
UAB. “All five guys have to get back and play good team
The Tar Heels have a chance to fine-tune things defensively
against ETSU (2-4) and next Saturday versus East Carolina before
visiting Texas on Dec. 19. North Carolina has won 77 straight home
games against unranked non-conference opponents since a loss to
Ohio on Feb. 20, 2002.
Offensively, Williams had to be pleased after his team shot 71.9
percent in the second half and recorded a season-high 28 assists
overall last weekend. Junior Leslie McDonald scored 24 points in
his first career start while Reggie Bullock had 17 and James
Michael McAdoo added 15 with 12 rebounds.
McDonald, who missed last season with a torn ACL, may not be in
the starting lineup again with freshman point guard Marcus Paige on
track to return from a shoulder injury, but he’ll try to continue
to provide a scoring boost.
“I feel pretty good,” said McDonald, who has hit 17 of 34 from
3-point range this season. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve
been doing, keep working on my shot and keep being consistent.”
North Carolina looks to improve to 6-0 against ETSU in the
teams’ first meeting since the Tar Heels’ 118-65 victory in
Facing a difficult task to begin with, the short-handed
Buccaneers’ slim chances for an upset may shrink even more if
starting point guard Petey McClain misses a second straight contest
with an ankle injury. ETSU is already playing without seniors
Marcus Dubose (15.5 points per game) and Sheldon Cooley (9.5), who
were suspended indefinitely after being arrested on drug charges
Without McClain, the Bucs shot 28.8 percent and committed 18
turnovers in Wednesday’s 70-45 loss at James Madison.
“We are really facing a tough situation right now without
Petey,” ETSU coach Murry Bartow said.
Bucs freshman Lester Wilson averages a team-leading 19.7