Chapel Hill, NC – Coming off of their championship run, North Carolina’s exhibition game against The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was highly anticipated. The Tar Heels annihilated the Braves tonight 124-63 to move on from last season, starting this one with a bang. Carolina is returning eight players including senior Kennedy Meeks, Junior Joel Berry II, Nate Britt, and a very skilled junior in Justin Jackson, along with highly scouted freshman recruit Seventh Woods. The team looking for Berry to fill that leadership role without Paige and Brice Johnson. Berry states there’s no hard feelings following the run and they are simply moving on and just “playing basketball.” He is working on being more “vocal” in transition from being the quiet guy that just gets things done. He states “it’s something he’s working on.”
The Tar Heels started the game with Meeks, Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, Berry II, and Britt. Hicks won the jump ball but the Braves put the first points on the board with a drive to the basket. Berry II controlled the tempo of their offense from the point. Pembroke’s defense shocking the home team as they struggle to get in a rhythm to score at points. However, the Tar Heels agility and speed looked to be just too much for the Braves. Woods came off the bench and brought instant energy to the team weaving through defenders.
Joel Berry II to Hicks for the dunk brought this entire dome to a roar. Jackson for a three, Britt for a three, and Carolina with a 70% 3PT percentage halfway thru the first quarter, 38-15 Tar heels. Pembroke’s front court proved to be relentless as they did not ease up once against the stronger opponent. Williams was tied with Berry for ten points on 4-5 shooting from the paint and 2-3 from the field. Pembroke bounced from man to zone attempting to control the multi-threat the tar heels are posing. Pembroke with ten fouls Tar Heels with eight to end the first half. Kenny Williams with more points than he did in every game last season including the ACC Tournament and the NCAA tournament combined. Hicks leading all scorers with 15 on 5-6 shooting from the paint and 2-2 from the free throw line. UNCP’s Tony Bradley with five rebounds, four defensive which is more than the entire North Carolina roster combined. Andrew Evans leading the Braves with eight points on 3-6 shooting from the field and 2-5 shooting from the three. UNCP with 31 points, Carolina with 61.
The Heels did not let up coming out the locker room starting the second half on an 11-2 run and forcing an UNCP timeout. Carolina eight for 11 on a 73% shooting percentage. Improving from the first. Seventh Woods with a complete fight to win attitude. The freshman can play. UNCP did not have a single player in double digits at the 10:45 mark left to play in the game and Luke Maye with a perfect 5-5 with 11 p
This gave the Tar Heels a better shooting percentage (70%) than free throw (68%). With the score now 91-47 Tar Heels, Pembroke switched to a zone defense and attempted to tame the hot Heels. Back-to-back three’s from Berry II pushed the score to 105, which doubled UNCP’s score of 52 at the under eight media timeout. Joel Berry finished with a game high 20 points and UNCP with two players now in double digits.
Maye finished the game in double digits with 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. He averaged 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in the 2015-16 season. Berry II was joined by Isaiah Hicks who finishes with 16 points on 6-6 FT shooting. Roy Williams sat all starters and major contributors by the four minute mark as the Tar Heels wait out the end of the game.
Head Coach Roy Williams opens with a statement on the record 30 offensive rebounds given up to UNCP, the most in 14 years. At this time He has no final starting roster but is completely comfortable with Joel [James] and Justin. Big performers Maye and Williams came at “no surprise.” Staff apparently took a vote over the summer and both were in their top four of most impressive. From this game the tar heels will work on rebounding and getting into shape. Williams would like to ensure everyone is tough enough to guard their man.
UNC hosts Tulane next Friday, November 11th to open their season.
(Photos courtesy of UNC Athletics)