ATLANTA -- North Carolina’s sleeping giant woke up on Tuesday and Georgia Tech wears the scars to prove it.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina’s leading scorer, had been held in single-digit scoring for the last three games. He was move involved in the offense and rediscovered his touch at McCamish Pavilion on and scored 22 points, his fourth 20-point game of the season, in leading the Tar Heels to a 70-58 win over Georgia Tech.
McAdoo, the bullish 6-9 sophomore from Norfolk, Va., entered the game averaging 14.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. But he had been somewhat lost in the shuffle since the Tar Heels went to a smaller lineup and he was asked to play the No. 5 spot. That wasn’t a problem on Tuesday before a sellout crowd.
“I thought we did a good job (against the smaller lineup) but we had some problems against their quickness,” said Tech coach Brian Gregory. “And McAdoo at the five gave us some problems.”
McAdoo wound up making 9-of-19 shots and grabbing 11 rebounds. He had totaled only 24 points and 21 points in the last three games. McAdoo was the recipient of numerous dropped-off passes in the lane and consistently cashed them in, to a greater extent than he did in the first meeting on Jan. 23 when he had 14 points and nine rebounds against the Jackets in Chapel Hill.
“It’s been a big challenge for him the last three games,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams. “He’s done a good job on defense and we’re asking him to do the same things on offense. We’re asking him to post up more.”
North Carolina (18-8, 8-5) took control of the game with a 12-4 run early in the second half. After Tech cut the lead to 41-37, the Tar Heels responded, with Reggie Bullock scoring five points during the stretch to give Carolina a 53-41 edge. Tech never got closer than that he rest of the night.
“I’m disappointed with the outcome of the game, but our guys played hard,” Gregory said. “They played with good effort. Sometimes they wanted it so bad and went too fast.”
The Yellow Jackets (14-11, 4-9) were led by Marcus Georges-Hunt with 12 points and seven rebounds, Chris Bolden with 12 points and Kammeon Holsey with 10 points and six rebounds. Daniel Miller had a season-high 12 rebounds. North Carolina also got 15 points from Leslie McDonald and 10 from P.J. Hairston.
“We played a good team and we did a lot of good things,” Gregory said. “But it was not good enough to make up for some of the glaring mistakes we made.”
The first seven minutes were a whirlwind of activity, with both teams running and battling for position. By the time the game was stopped at 13:37 for the first media timeout, the score was tied 10-10 and there only been one foul called. You could get a feel for the way the game was going to be played early, when Carolina’s P.J. Hairston tried unsuccessfully to draw a charge on consecutive trips down the court.
The game stayed close, as both sides missed inside opportunities. Tech missed three putbacks on one trip and Carolina had a hat trick minutes later. Both teams had scored 10 points in the paint when the media timeout came at 7:18 with the Heels leading 21-19. Carolina responded with a burst coming out of the break and grabbed a six-point lead, only to have Tech claw back to within two on Mfon Udofia’s 3-pointer, his first shot of the game. But Carolina took advantage of some lax passing by Tech and reclaimed a six-point lead (36-30) at halftime.
The Jackets had another bad shooting night, making just 29 percent in the half, but UNC was even worse at 25 percent. Tech’s downfall was in turnovers (seven) and free throws, where the Jackets missed all of their six attempts at the line.
Tech hung around largely because of the effort of Miller, who had six points and eight rebounds, and Holsey, who had five rebounds. Tech outrebounded UNC 24-21 in the first half.
The Tech had a heavy showing of Carolina blue in the stands, but not enough to drown out the home folks. The crowd gave a healthy cheer for former Tech football star Calvin Johnson when he was shown on the video screen that hangs over the court.
Tech plays again on Saturday at Virginia at 2 p.m. The Yellow Jackets upset the Cavs 66-60 on Feb. 3