North Carolina defeats East Tennessee State, 78-55
Posted December 8, 2012
FINAL: North Carolina takes a 78-55 win over East Tennessee State. Leslie McDonald and Brice Johnson combined for 26 points off the bench to carry the Heels to the victory.
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: ETSU 1-1, UNC 3-0. Away Record: ETSU 1-3, UNC 1-1. Neutral Record: ETSU 0-0, UNC 2-1. Conference Record: ETSU 0-0, UNC 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 5-0.
GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels continue a three-game homestand on Saturday, as they play host to the East Tennessee State Buccaneers at the Smith Center.
Roy Williams' squad has had a week off for final exams and hasn't played since last weekend's 102-84 victory over UAB. With the win, North Carolina moved to 3-0 at home and 6-2 overall on the year. The victory also put some distance between the Tar Heels and a humbling loss at top-ranked Indiana (83-59) prior to that.
Murry Bartow's Buccaneers have struggled out of the gate in 2012-13, sporting a mere 2-4 record overall. Playing out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, East Tennessee State comes into this contest with a mere 1-3 road record, including a 70-45 pasting at the hands of James Madison in Harrisonburg on Wednesday.
North Carolina has won all five previous meetings between the two teams, although the last matchup took place back in 1987.
The Buccaneers were not a full strength and it showed against James Madison this week, as without starting point guard Petey McClain, ETSU had very little continuity on the offensive end, resulting in a mere 45 points. East Tennessee State shot a mere .288 from the floor in the game and was guilty of 18 turnovers. Lester Wilson led the way for ETSU with 21 points, but took 23 shots to get there. Rashawn Rembert was the only other Buccaneer to reach double digits, adding 12 points in the losing effort.
McClain isn't much of a scorer (4.0 ppg), but he is a solid distributor (3.4 apg) and is missed in the lineup. McClain is listed as questionable for this contest (ankle). The team's lone offensive threat is Wilson with the arrests of Marcus Dubose (15.5 ppg) and Sheldon Cooley (9.5 ppg) a couple of weeks ago. The 6-foot-4 Wilson has now had to carry the scoring load and has done his best in that regard, shooting .453 from the floor, including a better .476 from behind the arc (20-of-42) en route to 19.7 ppg. Unfortunately, there is little else in terms of proven offensive commodities, with Hunter Harris (7.3 ppg) and Rembert (6.8 ppg) representing the best of the rest.
Leslie McDonald had a career game against UAB last time out, as he netted 24 points and dished out five assists (both career-highs) in an offensive shootout with the Blazers. McDonald, who converted 7-of-11 from the floor, drained five 3-pointers in the win. Reggie Bullock finished with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, followed by P.J. Hairston's 16 points. James Michael McAdoo recorded a double-double, his fourth of the season, with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Dexter Strickland just missed a double-double of his own with 11 points and nine assists. Brice Johnson finished off the top scorers with 11 points of his own.
North Carolina is obviously a dangerous offensive team and comes into this contest averaging 84.1 ppg (eighth nationally), on a solid .466 shooting. McAdoo has been the most impressive Tar Heel this season, averaging team-highs of 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Bullock adds 12.3 ppg and has been lights out from long range, knocking down almost half of his 3-point attempts (19-of-39). Hairston (11.6 ppg) and McDonald (9.9 ppg) are also capable snipers, combining with Bullock to account for 50 of the team's 63 3-pointers to date. Further offensive depth comes in the form of Johnson (9.1 ppg) and Strickland (8.9 ppg).
The Buccaneers were out-gunned prior to the losses of key personnel. Without being at full strength, ETSU is likely to be overwhelmed by North Carolina's arsenal. This one should be well in hand for the home team by the intermission.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 85, East Tennessee State 41