Heels run away with win, 104-72

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina flexed its collective muscle with a 104-72 win over Team Nike Thursday night at the Smith Center in its final preseason tune-up before the season-opener Nov. 22 versus Old Dominion.

(Roy Williams PC - Locker Room Report - Photos I - Photos II - Box Score )
Led by the "Big Three" sophomores and junior Jawad Williams, the Tar Heels jumped out to a 17-2 lead, and withstood a rally in which Team Nike would take back the lead, but then crumble under the weight of heavy foul trouble.

Williams and Sean May each scored a game-high 22 points, with May pulling down 16 rebounds.

"I just came out tonight knowing I had to control the boards, so I just tried to get as many as I could," May said. "Right now I'm in the best shape of my life both weight-wise and conditioning-wise."

Raymond Felton dished out 12 assists to go along with his 13 points, while Rashad McCants overcame a 1-for-9 effort in the first half to finish with 15 points.

"It's tough, because you have those nights," McCants said. "But for me, my perspective was to come out, help our team and build a lead."

Team Nike, a "trail mix" of marginally renowned former high school and college players from across the country, was led by 21 points from former Penn State guard Brandon Watkins.

The UNC starters were clicking out of the gate, looking as though they were in midseason form from the game's onset. But when coach Roy Williams had to go a little deeper into the bench, Nike went on a 27-9 run to take a surprising 29-26 lead on Stan Blackmon's (Arkansas-Little Rock) 3-pointer with 7:28 remaining before half.

"We shocked them a little bit about how hard we were coming at them," Williams said. "Then we got a little fatigued and our defense was not as good. I told them that shows your coach that you're out of shape."

The most demonstrative moment of the first half came when May beat Ousmane Cisse down court after a made basket, took a 3/4 court alley-oop pass from Felton and slammed home a monstrous dunk to put Carolina up 39-31. Cisse, once a highly touted prospect who tried to go pro right out of high school but failed to make a NBA roster, was held to just seven points.

"To get a big guy out there running like that, you have to have a lot of things," Williams said. "You have to have to get the ball out of the net and get it inbounds, Raymond has to get it out quick, and Sean has to beat his man down the court."

First off the bench was the pleasantly surprising walk-on freshman Justin Bohlander and then Jackie Manuel. Manuel finished with 10 points and nine rebounds against just two turnovers, and again garnered post-game praise praised by Williams for his overall play.

Bohlander, who adds desperately needed depth in the post, had seven rebounds to go with seven points and a blocked shot.

"Justin's done some nice jobs for us," Williams said. "He's coachable and he learns things well on both ends of the floor. We need some guys with his size."

For the game, the Tar Heels shot 52.7 percent from the floor, including 7-of-15 from 3-point range.

"I think we played real well," McCants said. "We had a couple of lapses where we didn't really keep up our defensive intensity, and we kind of let them back in the game a couple of times."

Game Notes:

  • Seven-foot Team Nike center Jason Jennings, a 2nd round draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers two years ago, fouled out in only two minutes of action. He finished with zero points to go with his zero rebounds. With 1:14 left in the first half, Jennings fouled Jawad Williams and then the two squared off and had words under the basket. ACC referee Les Jones administered technical fouls to both Williams and Jennings, which was enough to run Jennings.

    But what happened next was simply "unbelievable."

    Jones hit a weathered veteran college coach Bill Frieder, whose team was embarrassed the night before at Duke, with two lightning quick technicals. As an astonished Frieder was escorted to the locker room, while it appeared that Roy Williams was actually lobbying Jones to let Frieder stay.

    Frieder, who held head positions at Michigan and Arizona State, just mouthed "unbelievable," dumfounded as he realized he was being escorted off the court in the first half during an exhibition contest.

    "I was surprised; I only heard one whistle," Williams said. "I hate those kinds of things for anyone in any game. The official said he didn't have a choice. Bill Frieder's a good friend of mine. I wish he could have stayed out there in the second half."

  • After the Blue-White game, Williams said McCants had a lot of catching up to do in practice. He appeared to have gotten up to speed in between the first and second halves. Along with displaying a variety of moves from his vast repertoire, he wowed the 8,228 fans in attendance with a reverse dunk that resembled the one Jerry Stackhouse made famous at Duke in 1995.

    "Rashad was an ‘ugly' 1-for-9 in the first half," Williams said. "But I wasn't worried because all but one were good shots."

  • While the Tar Heels looked fine for the most part against an overworked punching bag like Team Nike, they still have a great deal of work to do over the next nine days before starting the season.

    "At times it was an ugly game," Williams said. "The good news for us is that we have about seven practices before we open up for real. We did some better things tonight than we did in the first game. We've got to get a whole lot better."

    "We run well, but we can always run better, faster and get the ball out quicker," McCants added. "Team chemistry is good, but it's not great right now. We got a lot of work to do over the next seven or eight days."

  • Sean May is showing no ill effects from his virtually season-ending foot injury from a year ago. His health is so much of concern this season that when Williams runs the rest of the team in practice, he sends May to the exercise bike.

    "It's harder to condition Sean than anybody else," Williams said. "He's done a nice job."

    "I still can get a lot better," May said. "In the second half I got pretty winded out there."

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