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The Daily Tar Heel

Hampton Dominates UNC in Upset

The Pirates jumped to a 37-28 lead by halftime and shut down Tar Heel center Kris Lang inside the paint.

The defeat came at the hands of Michigan State, the eventual national champion that season, in the inaugural ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Friday night, UNC reverted back to the more typical nonconference opening opponent at the Smith Center.

Hampton, said foe from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, reverted back to its dragon slaying of March and zoned out the No. 19 Tar Heels 77-69 in front of 17,320 stunned fans.

"I'm not really used to this," said Hampton coach Steve Merfeld with reporters' recorders and cameras pointed at him as he stepped to the podium for his postgame press conference. "So just general comments to start?"

Sure, coach. Tell everyone how you humbled the once-mighty Tar Heels.

"We went in with a simple game plan that they were going to have to beat us from the outside," Merfeld said. "There's no way we could guard Kris Lang one-on-one in around the goal. I didn't plan on playing a zone the whole game, but we got a lead and things were going well. We stuck with it and never played one possession of man the whole game."

The Pirates executed their game plan to perfection and controlled the game essentially from start to finish, leading by as much as 16 late in the second half.

Hampton, which upset second-seeded Iowa State in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament, played a compact zone that collapsed on the 6-foot-11 Lang in the middle and consistently left UNC shooters open on the perimeter.

Hampton did not trap out of the zone but doubled Lang to deny passing lanes to him.

Lang scored 61 points in two preseason games with forward Jason Capel on the bench. The Pirates were determined to not let Lang have free rein Friday, despite the fact that no one is listed as a center on their roster. Starting in that designated slot was 6-7, 230-pound David Johnson.

"Basically, they really did not want Kris to get the ball today," said guard Brian Morrison, who had nine points, five assists and four turnovers for UNC. He made two and missed eight of the school-record 34 3-point attempts taken by the team. The Tar Heels shot 17.6 percent from downtown.

"It was a very active zone," said Lang, who scored two points and took three shots in the first half. "They had their hands out. It was just a frustrating time for me in there, but the guys, we were shooting the outside shots. But we just weren't hitting them. And that's going to happen some nights. Unfortunately, it happened on the season opener, and that's just a frustrating thing."

UNC continued its preseason trend of poor outside shooting, which the team maintains is uncharacteristic of the strokers on the team. The Tar Heels shot 38.8 percent from the floor and talked highly of the Pirates' shooting performances.

However, the statistics between the two teams, save the final score, looked eerily similar. Hampton had a 38.9 field-goal percentage, a 25 percent 3-point percentage and one less rebound. Perhaps the biggest difference was the 16 turnovers it helped create with its non-trapping zone defense. The Pirates coughed up possession 10 times.

"I thought they shot extremely well," said UNC point guard Adam Boone, who tallied seven points, five assists and four rebounds. "I would say they shot a better percentage contested. I think they hit a lot of contested jump shots. They missed more open ones than they did contested. I could be wrong, but I would guess that, well, I don't know. I would be interested in the free-throw line. It's hard to say what attributed to that, shooting the same field-goal percentage."

A UNC Athletic Communications official then pointed out to Boone that the Tar Heels were 11 of 16 from the charity stripe while the Pirates hit 15 of 19.

"We turned the ball over," Boone said. "Until the end, they really didn't turn it over too much. But we turned the ball over too much for our team."

Senior Jason Capel led UNC with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five turnovers. He made one of his nine 3-pointers. Freshman Jawad Williams had 10 points and seven boards, all in the first half. Hampton's Tommy Adams led all scorers with 20 points.

"This was ... it's just frustrating," said Lang when reminded of the 1999 loss to Michigan State to begin the home slate. "That really sums it up. It's just very frustrating, but we have to bounce back from this. The sun will rise tomorrow."

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

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