Unlike previous games where the Tar Heels appeared to let off the pedal in the second half, UNC didn’t let up after the break, draining five of 11 from deep and limiting the Cowboys to shooting 36 percent from the floor.
“At halftime I told the team that we couldn’t come out in the second half and half-ass it, just coming out and letting teams score 60 points in the second half like we’ve been doing,” Hairston said.
The solid performance from behind the arc is the first step in erasing the painful memory of Wednesday’s loss to Texas.
Against the Longhorns, the Tar Heels looked like a completely different team from long range, making only three of 19 from deep.
“I think we can really shoot,” coach Roy Williams said. “And if you can really shoot, then you’re supposed to be able to do it every night. You’re not supposed to have those nights where you go three-for-22 or whatever the heck it is. It makes it more frustrating.”
Through 12 games, the Tar Heels have netted at least 10 3-pointers in six games. But those games include wins against Division II opponent Chaminade, Mississippi State and East Tennessee State. But in the three losses this season against Butler, Indiana, and Texas, the Tar Heels only made a total of 11 3-pointers.
“I feel like I’m 6-foot-7 and playing on the wing, so I should be able to shoot over smaller defenders,” Bullock said. “Texas, Butler and Indiana, those are better schools obviously, but I feel like they try to get up into you more to try to be more aggressive”
With the old adage “live by the three, die by the three” ringing true for the Tar Heels in the early season, the team must find balance through stronger post play.
“We’ve got to establish more inside play,” Williams said. “We’ve got to have more balance. I think to me, the key of the game today was that we made a lot of shots. Everybody has heard me say a thousand times that everything looks better when it goes in the basket, but we’ve got to have more balance inside.”
Though UNC’s development is far from over, one thing has been established — North Carolina will have to play together if it wants to be successful this season.
“A win always makes you feel better,” Hairston said. “I think the main thing is just we did better this game playing with a little bit more heart and play together as a team.”