The North Carolina Tar Heels now have momentum as they head into ACC play on Jan. 5 against Wake Forest. The team dominated North Carolina-Wilmington by the score of 84-51, and it finally looks like everything is coming together.
James Michael McAdoo finally woke up, to say the least, and finished the game with his first double-double since the team’s loss to Belmont on Nov. 17. He lead the team in scoring with 23 points, and was 11-of-14 from the field which is a huge improvement. If McAdoo can take this momentum into ACC play, the Tar Heels will be a team to fear. Marcus Paige continued to carry the team’s backcourt with 15 points, and once again showed that he is an elite point guard in the conference.
With Joel James still out with a knee injury, Kennedy Meeks received his first career start. I was disappointed with this decision considering Brice Johnson has been terrific in the starting lineup thus far, but he still entered the game off the bench and had a huge game. Johnson had 14 points, seven rebounds and a monstrous block in the blowout, and it would be ridiculous if coach Roy Williams did not put him back in the starting lineup in the Wake Forest game. If McAdoo and him can continue to be dominant in the frontcourt, opposing defenses will have a rough time trying to be successful against the Tar Heels.
Once again, Leslie McDonald showed that he is improving with each and every game since returning from suspension. The guard came off the bench and scored 14 points, and even though he only hit one shot from beyond the arc, it is nice to see that the Tar Heels’ bench is continuing to be effective. Speaking of their bench, freshman forward Isaiah Hicks came in and was a huge factor for the Tar Heels. He attempted and made his first three of the season, and was perfect during his only trip to the free-throw line.
The Tar Heels’ defense forced UNC-Wilmington to shoot only 31.1 percent from the field, and flat out made them look silly. The team needed this blowout victory desperately, because now they have the perfect amount of confidence and momentum to help them be successful on the road to begin ACC play. The Tar Heels expect James to be back for the game, which will only be another plus for them in all aspects of their game. There are still many questions surrounding the young team, but for now, it is safe to say that they are coming together quite nicely.