UNC-PSU: Game Notes

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina's exciting freshmen did everything in their power to exorcise the demons that haunted this legendary program after the most incomprehensible season last winter. And although it has played just one game, the rebirth of Tar Heel basketball appears to be well in hand after Monday's 85-55 victory over Penn State.

Here are some notes from Carolina's first game of the 2002-03 campaign.

***Rashad McCants' 28 points set a first-game freshman record at UNC, surpassing the 24 points Joe Forte tallied in a win over Southern Cal in November of 1999.

***McCants led the Heels in scoring and fellow freshmen Raymond Felton was tops in assists with 10, which is the highest total ever at UNC by a freshman in his first game, and Sean May grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

***UNC freshman center Damion Grant was originally in uniform prior to the game but eventually was back in street clothes. According to UNC Director of Sports Information Steve Kirschner, Grant has a "medical condition" and was not able to play. Kirschner said that Grant would be undergoing tests.

***With the win, Carolina is now 4-1 against the Nittany Lions. The lone loss came in the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament in New Orleans. The only two current Heels who were on UNC's roster for that game are seniors Jonathan Holmes and Will Johnson.

***With tonight's win, the Tar Heels are now 7-0 at home in Preseason NIT games.

***This is UNC's fourth appearance in the Preseason NIT. The Tar Heels are 10-2 all-time in the tournament, winning it in 1998 and losing in the semifinals in 1988 (to Indiana) and 1993 (to Massachusetts).

***This is Carolina's youngest team ever. UNC has just nine players on basketball scholarship. Five are freshmen, three are sophomore and one is a senior. UNC also has a senior who is on Morehead Scholarship and a freshman who is walking on this year, but will be on scholarship next season. UNC wasn't able to offer David Noel a basketball scholarship this year because there reached their limit regarding the 5/8 rule, meaning a school can't sign more than five players in one year and eight over a two year stretch.

***Over the first 49 years of ACC basketball, UNC has averaged eight juniors and seniors its preseason rosters. Prior to this year the fewest number of juniors and seniors on a roster was four, which was in the 1990-91 season when UNC had three senior starters (Rick Fox, King Rice, Pete Chilcut) and junior starter Hubert Davis.

***According to the Syracuse Post-Standard, Carolina is the youngest team in the nation.

***UNC started three freshmen for the first time ever. Tonight's starting lineup: Sophomores Jackie Manuel and Jawad Williams and freshmen McCants, Felton and May.

****Scott and Manuel were the first freshmen to start in backcourt together last year.

***Williams was the 17th freshman to ever start his first game for UNC last year. That number is now up to 20.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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