Offense shines at Blue-White Game

CHAPEL HILL -- After an evening of offensive fireworks in front of a record-setting Blue-White Game crowd Saturday, it's clear that the excitement for Carolina Basketball has returned to Chapel Hill.

Locker Room Report - Doherty Quotes - Photos I - Photos II - Video I - Video II - Box Score

The 14,125 fans in attendance watched the Tar Heels put up 197 points and shoot 47 percent on three-point attempts, making last season's offensive woes a distant memory. In the 2001 split-squad exhibition, the two teams combined for 55 first-half points. On Saturday, the White team alone had 57 points at the half.

"As a coach, you see a good play by the white team and you wonder did the blue team play any defense?" head coach Matt Doherty said postgame. "So, as I look at the tape I'll certainly be judging the offense and the defense. 102-95 - that's great, but on the flipside, were we guarding people? And that's something that I can't tell until we watch the tape."

While Rashad McCants had a game-high 36 points and Jawad Williams poured in 30 points of his own, the story of the night was the play of David Noel.

"Was there anybody who played better than him tonight? I don't think so," Doherty said. "Some guys played maybe as well, but he's certainly a guy you'd underline and say 'He's pretty good.'"

The freshman walk-on, who has earned rave reviews in summer pickup ball and preseason practice, posted 23 points, on 9-for-11 shooting, and pulled down 14 rebounds.

"They sleep on David because they say he's just athletic," said Melvin Scott, who contributed 19 points and seven assists. "He's a player. He's smart, he can shoot, he can drive, he's strong, and he's an all-around player. I like him because he knows the game. A lot of cats are going to sleep on him, and that's going to help him even more. He's going to explode on guys every night."

Noel threw down the biggest dunk of the night in the opening minutes, but proceeded to showcase that he's much more than just an amazing athlete. He connected on all three three-point attempts, pulled in six offensive boards, and recorded two blocks, two steals and two assists.

"He got an offensive rebound and in mid-air passed the ball to an open guy on the wing," senior Will Johnson (16 points, seven rebounds) said of one of Noel's most impressive plays of the night. "One, that's vision and two, that's unselfishness. That's exciting to have a guy who's not even on scholarship this year and he's able to do those things for us."

Meanwhile, the much-hyped freshman floor general Raymond Felton had a workman-like 17 points and 10 assists, but silenced the Smith Center crowd when he fell to the floor with a sprained ankle late in the second half.

"He's a tough kid and he only knows one speed," Doherty said. "It's hard to tell a kid who only knows one speed to slow down."

Felton was hobbling in the locker room after the game, but did not require an X-ray.

Sean May sat out the exhibition, as his knee sprain continues to heal. In his absence, the two freshmen post players battled each other -- Damion Grant looked better than his "project" reputation, with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Byron Sanders struggled on offense (four points) and pulled in six boards.

"We need Sean to be healthy, Damion needs to get in shape and Byron just needs experience," Doherty said. "We need Sean to be healthy - so then Damion and Byron can grow at their own pace."

Saturday's offensive arsenal was impressive, but Scott noted that UNC must now demonstrate that they can be equally impressive on defense.

"The real test is to see if we can defend because we gave up a lot of points tonight," he said. "I think that's what we have to prove at the next exhibition--that we can play defense."

The Tar Heels will get the chance to test their defense in the much anticipated rematch with the EA All-Stars next Saturday at 4:30 in the Smith Center.

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