The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday January 18th

UNC Gives Doherty 1st Win

The game won't count in the final standings, but Matt Doherty will take it.

Doherty picked up a victory in his first game as North Carolina men's basketball coach as the Tar Heels defeated the CBA's Yakima Sun Kings 96-87 at the Smith Center on Monday night.

"It's a relief," Doherty said. "I felt like my lungs were going to explode this afternoon - I was just anxious to get on the sidelines and coach a game. It was neat to be on the sidelines at the Smith Center."

Leading the Tar Heels was junior forward Kris Lang, who is coming back from a miserable sophomore season filled with injuries and illness.

Lang pumped in 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor and also added seven rebounds.

"I'm happy for him," said center Brendan Haywood, who had eight points and a game-high 13 boards. "A lot of people liked to talk about him last year as the weak link of our team, this and that.

"Kris Lang is nobody's weak link. If Kris Lang is healthy, he is one of the top power forwards in the nation and definitely one of the top ones in the ACC."

Lang showed his newfound health - and new moves - against the Sun Kings. He hit all kinds of shots: left-hand hook, right-hand hook, turnaround jumper. It was versatility that he lacked last season.

"It's just great," Lang said. "Coach Doherty has been stressing from Day 1 for me to shoot, and when the coach shows confidence, it gives you confidence."

Lang wasn't the only Tar Heel with a breakout game. Senior Max Owens poured in 16 points off the bench, hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

UNC was able to put up 96 points despite 25 turnovers, 14 of which came in the first half. The Tar Heels led 45-29 at the break, largely because the Sun Kings hit just 13-of-40 attempts. Yakima couldn't respond when UNC played better after halftime, and the Sun Kings trailed by 16 with 1:13 to go in the game.

The biggest question for the Tar Heels entering the season is at point guard, and freshman Adam Boone got most of the minutes Monday. He wasn't particularly effective, scoring 10 points with six turnovers and three assists in 26 minutes.

Fellow freshman Brian Morrison had three assists and one turnover in seven minutes, and sophomore Jonathan Holmes had two assists and no turnovers in seven minutes.

Doherty said he has not made a decision on his starter at the point in Friday's season-opening game against Winthrop. He was just glad that his team got in a good workout and that he got his first win.

"It's a great game for us to play," Doherty said. "If you play somebody that you beat by 40, you don't learn anything. I think we learned a lot tonight."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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