Henson hits career-high 19, Heels win

For a few minutes in the second half, Andrew Goudelock was doing

everything he could to remind Roy Williams and North Carolina of

their miserable time last season.

Instead, the 25th-ranked Tar Heels seemed to focus on how to

return to the lost transition attack that has long powered the Hall

of Fame coach’s best teams.

John Henson scored a career-high 19 points and ignited the

decisive second-half run to help North Carolina beat College of

Charleston 74-69 Sunday night, avenging last year’s overtime loss

to the Cougars while showing some welcome signs of growth after a

frustrating week.

Henson also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots for the Tar

Heels (4-2), who rallied from a five-point deficit midway through

the second half.

While Goudelock had another big game against his team, Williams

sounded pleased overall with the way his players – particularly

sophomore Dexter Strickland – defended the high-scoring guard. He

also could see progress in the way his young team started getting

out in transition after missed shots and turnovers in the second

half, speeding up the tempo in a way they have struggled to do ever

since Ty Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough left school after winning the

NCAA championship two seasons ago.

”I thought our team in the second half came together with more

emotion, more enthusiasm,” said Williams, who won his 200th game

at his alma mater. ”I think they lost themselves in the game more

than they have at any point this year, and I think that’s the way

you grow and mature as a team.”

It had been a rough few days for North Carolina leading up to

Thanksgiving. The Tar Heels lost to Minnesota and Vanderbilt in

consecutive games to close the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament, then

returned home with a lethargic showing in which they blew most of a

22-point lead in the second half before holding on late to beat UNC

Asheville 80-69.

Then there was the matter of playing the team that beat the Tar

Heels 82-79 in January in a game that seemed to start UNC’s

precipitous decline in Williams’ worst season as a head coach.

Goudelock scored 24 points and hit the tying 3-pointer in the final

seconds of that regulation in that one.

This time, he had 28 points on 11 for 27 shooting, including a

dazzling 2-minute flurry of 13 points that gave the Cougars their

biggest lead at 48-43. It was one of many sequences that proved

College of Charleston just wasn’t afraid of North Carolina, down to

when Trent Wiedeman stuffed down a 1-handed reverse dunk against

Tyler Zeller for the Cougars’ final lead at 54-52.

But from there, the Tar Heels pushed ahead and showed Williams

some things he’s been looking for heading into Tuesday’s trip to

No. 19 Illinois in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

”I loved our poise,” Williams said. ”They go up five and

Goudelock’s making some unbelievable shots, and we kept playing. I

don’t want to call a timeout and have the kids panic. I think you

get stronger through the course of your program if the kids can

figure it out themselves.”

Henson, the lanky 6-foot-10 forward who has struggled with his

offense, looked steady all day and banked in a shot in the lane to

put the Tar Heels ahead for good with about 7 1/2 minutes left.

That shot started an 8-0 run that finally gave them some breathing

room, with Strickland following with a dunk off a steal from

Harrison Barnes before Henson capped the run with a confident hook

over Jeremy Simmons to make it 64-56 with 4:51 to play.

”Earlier this week, I talked with Coach a little bit,” Henson

said. ”He said, ‘Just play within in the flow and let things come

to you,’ because we both felt like I was forcing things a little

bit.”

Henson helped North Carolina overcome shaky performances from

top scorers Zeller and Barnes, who each scored eight points on a

combined 7-for-24 shooting.

While Henson was soaring, Goudelock went scoreless for 10

minutes until his three-point play cut the deficit to five with a

minute left. The Cougars got no closer.

”Our game plan was to hang in there with them and see if

Goudelock got hot,” Cougars coach Bobby Cremins said. ”It

happened. We hung in there and then we got hot. …

”When we went up five, I thought we definitely had a chance

because Goudelock was putting on a show.”