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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels Fall Apart Late, Drop Exhibition to Nike

The first 30 minutes went exactly as the most optimistic of fans had hoped they would.

The last 10 minutes, though? Well, the Tar Heels played like even the most pessimistic of their supporters hoped they wouldn't.

After building a 67-56 lead with 9:54 to go, the Tar Heels crumbled down the stretch, scoring just five points the rest of the way to lose to Team Nike 76-72.

"We've got to learn to finish that team," said guard Melvin Scott. "That's all that happened tonight. We've just got to take care of the ball and finish them."

The Tar Heels struggled in the final minutes to make good decisions and bury open shots. During the last 4:54, they turned the ball over twice and failed to score a point despite taking eight shots during that time.

Team Nike, on the other hand, used dribble penetration and 3-point shooting from Terrell Baker and Jamaal Davis to get itself back into the game and push itself ahead in the final minutes.

"I'd like to think that our defense is better than that, but it wasn't," Doherty said. "There are going to be days like that with this young team."

Regardless, by the time Jawad Williams bricked a top-of-the-key 3 with less than 10 seconds to go, the standout play of freshman Sean May (23 points, 11 rebounds) and the brilliant early play of frosh point guard Raymond Felton (20 first-half points) were all but forgotten.

Replacing those thoughts were questions about the team's ability to contend against an opponent with multiple big men and UNC's ability to shake off an unexpected loss.

Even though the Tar Heels out-rebounded Team Nike 39-36 and grabbed 13 offensive boards, their perimeter players struggled to deny Team Nike's entry passes and dribble drives into the lane.

Once the ball got into the lane, Team Nike was able to move it back out to find open shooters or cutters slicing through the lane.

"We pressured the ball a lot, so you're going to have to give up something every now and then," Williams said.

Despite watching UNC shoot 32 percent in the second half and seeing Felton score just two points after the break, Doherty still found positives in the loss.

He also said it is important for the team to keep its swagger heading into the season opener Monday against Penn State, an idea echoed by one of his seniors.

"Without a doubt, this team's tough enough to handle this loss," said forward Will Johnson. "I know every guy in here is chomping at the bit to compete again and get back on track."

McCants, Manuel Sit as Precaution

Freshman Rashad McCants and sophomore Jackie Manuel sat out Wednesday but will play in UNC's season opener, Doherty said.

McCants is nursing an injured left shoulder, while Manuel has an injured groin. Doherty said the two have sat out of practice the last three days but could have played Wednesday night.

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