Rumble: Friday Night Report

BRONX, N.Y. -- Only two of North Carolina's targets are participating in the Rumble in the Bronx this weekend and neither got off to a great start on Friday night.

Chris Taft and Jason Horton played at the same time – two courts down from one another – so it wasn't easy to watch both. But we did our best.

Taft's Juice All-Stars team tipped off a little earlier than Horton's Team Texas squad, so we got a chance to see Taft for the first part of the first half before focusing on Horton's head-to-head matchup against Newark Rams floor leader Mike Nardi.

Taft was playing an overmatched Lancaster Elite team without Sebastian Telfair for the first half and the Xaverian High 6-9, 220-pound forward appeared somewhat disinterested. He was being guarded by opponents at least three inches smaller than him, but Taft wasn't aggressive on the offensive end – except for a baseline dunk from the left side.

He didn't fare much better in the second half, when Telfair appeared. Again, he showcased few offensive moves and wasn't a force on defense, either. His highlight came early on when Ramel Bradley tossed the ball off the backboard on the fastbreak for Taft to finish with an emphatic dunk.

Horton's matchup was far more intriguing against Nardi, who is a combination of Bobby Hurley and Steve Blake.

Horton didn't play the same kind of game he showcased at the Tournament of Champions, instead opting to take few – if any – perimeter shots and instead electing to distribute the ball to his teammates.

While Horton displayed great anticipation on the defensive end, making several steals during the game, Nardi clearly was a tough matchup for him and forced him into making questionable passes with the ball which resulted in turnovers.

Horton didn't score until late in the first half when he sank four consecutive free throws. Nardi knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and while his Rams went into the break trailing, he had nine points.

Horton was far too unselfish against Nardi's Newark team and also had difficulty finishing on a couple occasions.

We'll get a better look at Taft today when his Juice All-Stars go up against the Albany City Rocks this afternoon. This will feature Telfair, arguably the top sophomore in the country, against Tiki Mayben, the top freshman in the nation.


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