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The Daily Tar Heel

After a slow start UNC rolls Nicholls State 99-49

Reggie Bullock recorded his first career double-double in Monday's win

North Carolina forward John Henson lays the ball into the basket during the game against the Long Beach State at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday.
North Carolina forward John Henson lays the ball into the basket during the game against the Long Beach State at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday.

Just three and a half minutes in to the second half, a disgusted coach Roy Williams pulled his five starters off the floor in favor of five fresh pairs of legs.

At that point in the contest Monday night, North Carolina was leading Nicholls State 50-26 and on its way to winning 99-49.

“We were doing a poor job on defense,” Dexter Strickland said, “and (Williams) said, ‘When you go back in make sure you bring more intensity.’”

That starting group came back out on the floor with more than 11 minutes on the clock and rolled off a 15-1 run that was equally impressive at both ends of the floor. In that five minute stretch, the Tar Heels swatted away five Colonel shot attempts and had a pair of steals.

“I think everybody was even hungrier to get back in and prove coach wrong,” Strickland said. “He said we weren’t ready to play tonight, we knew that we were going to beat this team and we can’t have that mindset.”

It was Strickland that came up with the first steal in that re-energized stretch of play. He fought through some contact from the Nicholls State ball-handler to poke the ball down the sideline. He chased it down while tip-toeing the sideline to keep the ball in play before slinging it over to Tyler Zeller for the two-handed slam.

Strickland and James Michael McAdoo both recorded a team-high 14 points for the Tar Heels while sophomore wingman Reggie Bullock added his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

Though the Tar Heels went on to post their largest margin of victory since 2008, the game started at a sluggish pace.

Strickland scored the first points of the game more than two and a half minutes after the opening tip. By the first break in the action almost five minutes in, the score was 6-0.

“First four minutes of the game, I don’t think we scored a bucket,” Bullock said. “We just have to come out and play hard from the beginning, if we do that against great teams we’re going to get beat.”

Despite the slow start, the fact remained that the Colonels were very clearly overmatched. The tallest player on the Nicholls State roster is listed at 6-foot-7, which opened the door for a record night on the glass.

UNC pulled in 72 rebounds, the most since 1954 and 31 of those rebounds came on the offensive end. That offensive rebounding mark is the second best in school history since offensive rebounds became an official stat in 1986. But Williams isn’t fooled by the big rebounding numbers.

“We had a tremendous number of offensive rebounds because we missed so many shots,” Williams said. “That’s a bad thing right there. I would just as soon have us have no offensive rebounds and make every shot we take.”

With a matchup with Texas looming on Wednesday, Williams tried to take the blame for his team not performing up to par in the game Monday. But the senior forward Zeller wasn’t about to let his coach take all the responsibility.

“I love coach, but I think some of this is on us also,” Zeller said. “We’re the players, we go out and play. He gives us everything he can – he prepares us, he gives us all the information on the scouting reports – so we have to be able to take that and play every night.”

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