Long Beach State torched UNC en route to shooting above 51 percent from the field in the first half, a totally unacceptable number during any half, but especially in a contest at home against an unranked opponent.
Carolina did compete on defense during the second frame, however, and timely play from Reggie Bullock and John Henson spearheaded an 84-78 victory for the home team.
Bullock scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting and added four rebounds, two assists and three steals; many fans exited the arena with his name on their lips. Henson, meanwhile, nailed several jump shots and finished with 24 points on 12-for-17 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Tyler Zeller scored a highly efficient 17 points on 7-for-9 field goals. He also played more strongly with the ball and became a more willing passer out of double-teams than he’d been previously, dishing out four assists and doing a great job facilitating ball movement.
Of course, point guard Kendall Marshall remains the primary facilitator. Though he struggled as a scorer, he handed out 16 assists — his numbers this year are approaching video game level. Carolina’s dependency upon his passing may loom as a concern, but assessed in isolation, his ability to distribute the ball is remarkable.
The rotation continues to take shape as well. Williams played Bullock for 24 minutes and Strickland just 20, a nod to the fact that the starting backcourt of Strickland and Marshall simply lacks scoring pop. In this game the starting guards combined for 2-for-10 shooting — and hobbled freshman P.J. Hairston missed all three of his attempts — making Bullock’s contribution off the bench that much more valuable.
Carolina will take a week off for exams and host Appalachian State next Saturday. Click here to view the UNC/LBSU box score.