McAdoo manhandles in McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech

ATLANTA — When North Carolina coach Roy Williams decided to insert guard P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup at the power forward position, sophomore James Michael McAdoo was forced to don a new role — starting center.

Moving to a new position could have been a tough shift, but in his third game at center, McAdoo made the transition appear seamless and helped UNC (18-8, 8-5 ACC) defeat Georgia Tech (14-11, 4-9 ACC) 70-58 in UNC’s first trip to the newly built McCamish Pavilion.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” freshman point guard Marcus Paige said. “He gets more room to do whatever he wants in the post, and he can get lower position. He can roam out and set ball screens. It just gives him more options, and he’s handled it pretty well.”

By halftime, McAdoo had matched and surpassed his totals from UNC’s first meeting with Georgia Tech.

While the forward scored a respectable 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Georgia Tech in January, he scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds in first half of the rematch Tuesday night. McAdoo finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, his fourth 20-point game and his first double-digit finish since dropping 20 points against Wake Forest nearly two weeks ago.

In the opening half McAdoo benefited from Paige’s unselfish play.

Paige assisted on three of McAdoo’s nine field goals. Paige finished with five assists, four steals and two turnovers.

In the opening minutes of the second half, it looked like McAdoo would continue his dominance in the lane for another 20 minutes.

But McAdoo only hit one more jumper for the rest of the half and converted four of his six free throw attempts.

“Our starting guys on the perimeter, Marcus (Paige), Dexter (Strickland), and Reggie (Bullock) were zero-for-nine at halftime, and nobody scored so it was good to get them a little bit more involved,” Williams said.

But while McAdoo cooled from the floor, junior guard Reggie Bullock woke up from a scoreless first half to score nine points in the second.

The Tar Heels put together a 12-0 run midway through the second half to put away the Yellow Jackets.

McAdoo couldn’t find much success outside the lane, missing all but two of his 10 jump shot attempts, but was he was able to exploit the slow feet of his defenders between the blocks. The 6-foot-9 sophomore scored seven buckets in the paint.

But redshirt junior Leslie McDonald made up for McAdoo’s jump shot shortcomings, going four-for-six behind the arc to score 15, his second double-figure effort of the ACC season.

While the smaller lineup often puts Hairston on the short side of a height mismatch, McAdoo is quickly proving that Hairston isn’t the only undersized player at his position making an impact.

“Just like (Hairston) learning the power forward position,” McAdoo said, “I’m just trying to get adjusted to that and just learn how to play alongside him, and I think it’s going pretty well.

“I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

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