The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday February 6th

3-Point Barrage Ignites UNC Win

Even from the start, things were a bit off Wednesday night at the Smith Center.

North Carolina's leading scorer, Rashad McCants, was on the bench to start the Tar Heels' game against Davidson. In his place? Will Johnson.

If that weren't strange enough, a loose-ball scrum following the opening tip cost the Wildcats' leading scorer, Peter Anderer, half of his front tooth.

Not exactly a run-of-the-mill first 10 seconds. Then again, perhaps it was an appropriate start to a strange matchup.

Playing the nation's third-best 3-point shooting team, UNC took more treys than 2-point baskets, chucking up 35 and making 13 to cruise to a 79-64 win before 18,555.

"I felt that they were going to pack it in, whether it was a zone or in a man-to-man, and that we'd have to take outside shots," said UNC coach Matt Doherty after the Tar Heels' best game since center Sean May was injured Dec. 27.

Regardless of their quality, the quantity of 3s was indisputable. The 35 3-point attempts were the most in school history, breaking the previous mark of 34.

McCants, who Doherty kept on the bench in an effort to "light a little fire," warmed up as the game went on and led the way for the Tar Heels (9-4), knocking down four 3s en route to a team-high 19 points.

"Night in and night out, we're going to have to shoot well because we don't have that presence like Sean inside," said reserve guard Melvin Scott, who also provided a boost off the bench, draining five triples for 15 points.

For much of the first half, the two teams competed in a long-range shooting contest, combining for 34 3s before the halftime buzzer. Neither team could buy a bucket, and UNC made only three of its first 16 attempts from behind the arc.

But after the Wildcats (7-4) tied the score at 22 with 7:07 left in the first half, the Tar Heels ran off an 18-3 run to effectively put the game away.

During that stretch, Scott swished two 3-pointers, and Raymond Felton (13 points, five assists) and Jawad Williams (15 points) each stroked one of his own.

In the meantime, the Wildcats struggled with the ball, taking bad shots and coughing it up as the Tar Heels rolled.

"We felt like if we made them beat us from the perimeter, and if we denied them second-shot opportunities ... then we felt we had a chance," said Davidson coach Bob McKillop.

But the Tar Heels still managed to grab 12 offensive rebounds and draw 21 fouls, which they turned into an 18-of-25 night from the charity stripe.

Add in a staunch defense that kept Davidson at 39 percent from the floor and caused 18 turnovers and UNC's balanced scoring was enough to top the team that shocked it last season.

And it was enough to get the Tar Heels past last year's eight-win plateau.

"It's nice to be home," Doherty said. "It's nice to win."

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

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