Three Things: Carolina 102, UAB 84
1. Dexter Strickland was thrust into the role of starting point guard at the last minute Saturday. He missed the pregame shootaround due to a class project. When he called a team manager to nail down what time he needed to be at the Smith Center, Strickland was told that Marcus Paige would be unavailable for the game.
Strickland answered the bell with 11 points and a career-high nine assists. Despite playing 29 minutes at point guard, the senior assessed his game with a scorer's mentality: "I think I did pretty well. Scored 11 points . . . "
2. Reggie Bullock likes the smaller lineup that Carolina employed for much of the second half last night. "I think it's great. We can throw traps at teams, we can be quick, be able to run the floor. We've got great shooters on the floor, so I believe when we go small like that, we're one of the best teams in the nation, because we can actually run and defend, and be so quick and throw traps at teams."
UAB was an ideal team against to play that smaller lineup, with 6'5 1/2 P.J. Hairston at the '4' position, and James Michael McAdoo at the '5.' The Blazers have just two players over 6'6. The lineup worked last night, as Hairston, Bullock, McAdoo and Leslie McDonald combined for 53 of Carolina's 67 second-half points.
3. Brice Johnson continues to play efficiently. The freshman put up 11 points (nine in the first half) and six rebounds in 14 minutes. He's slippery getting through defenders and to the basket for rebounds, and has a lightning-quick turnaround jumper. Johnson's frame - 6'9, 187 pounds - is reminiscent of a young John Henson. "I'm going to be myself at the end of the day. They can compare me to him. John's a great player and all, but I've got to be myself. I can't be him."
Here's a bonus 4th thing: Jerod Haase's UAB team is very familiar with the Carolina playbook, so the Tar Heels resorted to calling plays in huddles so as not to tip off the Blazers. But the phenomenon worked in reverse as well, according to Bullock. "Actually, they were running some of the plays that we run, so I actually knew where I was supposed to be at in the defensive position. They'd run one of our plays, and I knew what I was supposed to do."