UNC men's basketball team still looking for balance

The North Carolina men’s basketball team’s smaller starting lineup, which features P.J. Hairston as a power forward, has both its advantages and its disadvantages.

In the 10 conference games North Carolina (19-8, 9-5 ACC) played before playing Duke, it was averaging 71 points per game. With the new lineup, the Tar Heels are averaging more than 76 points per game.

“The biggest thing is that now we’ve stuck with (this lineup) and been somewhat successful with it, the biggest thing is just trying to work at it and get better,” James Michael McAdoo said. “And it has given us confidence, especially on the offensive end, just to see, I feel like we have a lot more firepower.

“Just having P.J. out there as a great shooter has given our offense kind of a different aspect to it.”

In contrast to that offensive spike, the Tar Heels were averaging 38 rebounds in the 10 conference games before the switch — and less than 36 since. That dip is the result of replacing Desmond Hubert with the shorter Hairston.

“What I’d like to do is have the best of both worlds — have the offensive capabilities to shoot the ball from outside in multiple positions and still rebound the ball,” coach Roy Williams said. “So we need to do that.”

Since making the switch to the smaller lineup, the Tar Heels are 3-1, their only loss coming in Durham. That game was decided by just five points.

Tonight the Tar Heels travel to Clemson (13-13, 5-9 ACC) to play a Tiger team hovering just above the cellar door in the conference standings.

While their record has them in eighth place in the ACC, the Tigers nearly knocked off Miami in Littlejohn Coliseum on Feb. 17.

Williams is hoping to level out his team’s play and continue to improve with the new lineup.

“If your play is up and down, up and down, you’re not going to be very successful,” Williams said. “We’ve got to focus on Clemson and their team and playing the best that we can play, and hopefully play better Thursday night than we did on Saturday.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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