With Henson out, McAdoo rises to the challenge with career-high performance

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer


GREENSBORO, N.C. - With North Carolina forward John Henson (wrist) ruled out of Friday's matchup with Vermont until just before game time, it mean freshman James Michael McAdoo got his third straight start in the Tar Heels lineup.

The 6-foot-9 freshman has made the most of his increased playing time, and did so again in the 77-58 win over Vermont.

McAdoo's career-high 17 points led the team in scoring along with ACC Player of the Year Tyler Zeller. He also added six rebounds and four steals to round out an impressive performance for the Norfolk, Va. native.

On Thursday, McAdoo mentioned how the increased playing time had helped his confidence. He explained how if he missed his first couple of shots, he knew there would be an opportunity to get them back. When McAdoo missed his first four field goal attempts against Vermont, it was an aggressive put-back dunk that got him going offensively.

"I felt I was taking good shots; they just weren't going in," McAdoo said of his performance early in the game on Friday. "And seeing that I really just tried to get to the offensive boards, I feel like I was able to get to the free throw line, and I was able to get that dunk. And then just coming back in the second half, I just tried to be aggressive and things seemed to just fall in my lap."

Roy Williams described McAdoo's efforts as "sensational" and complimented his work particularly on the offensive glass, where he collected five of his six rebounds. But McAdoo's aggressiveness did not just help him get going individually, his effort appeared to lift the whole team.

At the 12-minute media timeout, North Carolina was struggling to find a bucket as Vermont was hanging around with a 13-point lead. In the next three minutes out of the timeout, McAdoo had two three-point plays and fellow freshman P.J. Hairston hit a three to give the Tar Heels a 20-point lead.

For the rest of the second half, the Tar Heels slowly wore down a feisty Vermont squad and forced them out of their rhythm. Before you knew it, Roy Williams was calling for the end of the bench to check in to the game and the Tar Heels locked up their fifth-straight opening round win in the NCAA Tournament.

As North Carolina prepares to take on Creighton in the Round of 32, the biggest question surrounding the team continues to be the health of John Henson. But even if Henson plays, the Tar Heels will need another big-time contribution from McAdoo in order to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
 
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