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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Henson’s double-double lifts Heels past MVSU

Posted by on Sun, Nov 20, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Hensons inside scoring has been shocking
  • Tarheelblue.com
  • Henson's inside scoring has been shocking
DEAN SMITH CENTER/CHAPEL HILL — Through the first three games of the season, John Henson appears to be a legitimate contender for All-America and perhaps even National Player of the Year honors. Henson served up 18 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a block against outmatched Mississippi Valley State in a 101-75 victory this afternoon.

Remember two years ago ago when Henson was a gangly freshman playing out of position on the wing? The junior big man now has blossomed into arguably the best player on a loaded team, improving his turnaround jump shot to an extraordinary degree since last season.

For the second straight game the Heels played against a small opponent, and not surprisingly Tyler Zeller enjoyed another strong outing — 16 points and 10 rebounds — as well. Harrison Barnes isn’t hitting his jump shot consistently but is a more physical and efficient scorer this year, as his 18 points resulted from a solid 8-for-16 from the field.

Individual performances aside, Carolina’s defense continues to define this team. Roy Williams certainly wasn’t happy with UNC’s atrocious offensive play in the first half, but the Heels still carried a double-digit lead into the break and for the game held the Devils to just 38 percent shooting.

Carolina requires its defense to be stout, because offensively this isn't the 2009 team that could afford to pick its spots defensively. The Heels made only 26 percent from the three-point arc and shot a horrible 52 percent from the free throw line. Jump shooting remains the most troubling concern for this team looking forward, but of course it’s a long season and some players still are learning their roles.

To that end, games such as this possess value because reserves receive greater playing time. Sophomore Reggie Bullock, who has struggled thus far with his shooting, warmed up late in the second half and made three three-pointers. Freshman P.J. Hairston continues to enjoy working out his elbow when possible, firing up another seven three-pointers (making two) in his 14 minutes of action.

Additionally, freshman point guard Stilman White contributed nine solid minutes and freshman insider James Michael McAdoo continues to evolve into an athletic scorer and disruptive presence on defense.

Carolina returns to action on Tuesday night, hosting Tennessee State. The Heels then will travel to Las Vegas next weekend for back-to-back contests versus major-conference opponents. Click here to view the UNC/MVSU box score.

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