Tar Heels crush Hofstra in Puerto Rico | Sports

Tar Heels crush Hofstra in Puerto Rico

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North Carolina delivered an early knockout punch to Hofstra in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, racing to an early lead and coasting to a 107-63 victory. The Tar Heels played aggressively and very fast, and certainly many fans were relieved to see what they believe what UNC basketball should be.

Harrison Barnes backed up his immense reputation against the Pride, scoring all 19 of his points in the first half. He knocked in a highly efficient 7-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point territory, and he added seven rebounds.

As a team the Heels shot 56 percent from the field and a staggering 71 percent from behind the stripe. They out-rebounded the small Pride 50-to-29 and racked up 29 assists on 40 made field goals. In short, they appeared to be a far more polished team than the one that took the court at the Smith Center a week ago.

One question that continues to simmer is the status of the club’s point guard position. Freshman Kendall Marshall has demonstrated tremendous skill and savvy, while for his part junior Larry Drew played much better against Hofstra than he did in the opener. Drew is starting and played 21 minutes against the Pride, but Marshall enjoyed 15 minutes of action and appears to be narrowing the gap.

More than the team’s collective or series of individual performances, perhaps the most striking contrast between this unit and last season’s is the obvious enjoyment they are having. Even when Carolina began last season in successful fashion, they never demonstrated as much camaraderie as the guys this year. It remains to be seen what happens once this club encounters adversity, but several players — and Roy Williams — have commented on the improved social dynamic.

Carolina will return to the court on Friday at 8:30 versus Minnesota, and Tubby Smith’s well-coached group is one that will be able to challenge UNC’s frontcourt.

To see the UNC/Hofstra box score, click here.

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