Heels Coast in Paradise

NASSAU, Bahamas – North Carolina broke open a surprisingly close exhibition contest after halftime, outscoring the Bahamas All-Stars by 19 points in the third quarter before ultimately claiming a 123-86 victory at Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium on Thursday.

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Freshman wing Harrison Barnes paced the Tar Heels with 28 unofficial points and five rebounds, while Leslie McDonald added 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting. John Henson added a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

The All-Stars arrived intense and played aggressive early, battling North Carolina to a 20-20 tie after the first quarter of action. The Tar Heels fell behind 28-23 before closing out the half on a 30-19 run behind 12 points by both Barnes and John Henson.

Despite shooting 51.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes, North Carolina struggled at times against the All-Stars' zone defense. UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters after the game that his squad practiced its zone offense for only about 10 minutes earlier this week against the likes of Raymond Felton, Sean May and a handful of other former Tar Heels.

"We want to try to move, try to get the ball inside the middle and then come back out," Williams replied when asked how he wants his team to play against a zone. "We want our post players to continue moving and we want our perimeter players to not pass and stand still. They should pass and cut through all of the time."

While the All-Stars managed to contain North Carolina in transition during the first half, the frenetic pace eventually caught up with the Bahamians as a Tar Heel track meet ensued. Dexter Strickland (10 points, five assists, two turnovers) and Kendall Marshall (six points, eight assists, two turnovers) alternated running the point as Larry Drew sat out for the second straight game with a bum ankle.

Their contrasting styles kept the All-Stars off-balance as Strickland advanced the ball with his dribble while Marshall moved it through the air, always looking down the floor for a streaking teammate.

"Kendall is a great passer and sees the whole floor and he's willing to give it up," Williams said. "He's a pass-first point guard, so I always like those guys that see everybody on the floor and not just focus on one man. And with one exception tonight, he usually sees the defense, but he had one of his pitch-aheads that was intercepted because he didn't see the defensive player."

UNC connected on 55.6 percent of its field goal attempts (45-of-81) and knocked down 50 percent of its 3-pointers (10-of-20). The All-Stars shot 34.4 percent (21-of-61), including a dreadful 14.3 percent from long range (3-of-21).

North Carolina outrebounded its opponent, 48-28, but the foul and ensuing free throw discrepancies were glaring.

If you don't travel much internationally, driving on the left side of the road may be a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Those right turns are especially dicey. But this trip to the Bahamas also likely delivered a rare happenstance on the basketball court – a Tar Heel squad that gifted 109 free throw attempts to its opponents in a two-day span.

Never mind that uncalled misdemeanors on one end of the floor merged effortlessly with phantom calls on the other to provide the foundation for an educational book on bad officiating. North Carolina has made a living making more free throws than its opponents attempt in recent years, but the local Bahamas teams turned the tables on the Tar Heels, scoring 78 points at the line while UNC took 64 shots from the charity stripe in two games.

No one ever said playing on the road was easy. Just ask Henson, who drove to the hoop from the left wing only to be pulled to the floor from behind, thanks to a flagrant facemask.

"It was unfortunate," Williams said. "Again, we spent the whole night watching them shoot free throws. I didn't feel that things were going the way that I would like for them to at any point with that part of it."

Scottie Farrington led the All-Stars with 25 points (4-of-9 FG, 17-of-18 FT), while Jeremy Hutchinson added 20 points and nine rebounds.

North Carolina will return to Chapel Hill on Friday and hang up the high-tops until Late Night with Roy officially tips off the 2010-11 season in mid-October.

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