Humbled by its second decisive loss in three games, North Carolina returns home hoping to bounce back against a familiar face.
The No. 14 Tar Heels look to get back on track when they face former longtime assistant coach Jerod Haase and UAB on Saturday night.
With two sophomores and a freshman in his starting lineup, North Carolina coach Roy Williams expected some rough moments this season. The Tar Heels (5-2) endured their first setback when they trailed by as many as 29 points in an 82-71 loss to Butler at the Maui Invitational last week.
After rebounding with a 112-70 win over Chaminade in the third-place game, Williams' squad never mounted much of a challenge in Tuesday's 83-59 loss at top-ranked Indiana. Senior Dexter Strickland scored 14 points for the Tar Heels, who trailed by 32 in a second half where they shot 27.8 percent and missed all five 3-point attempts.
"I like my team, I don't like the way we played," Williams said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We've got to get things going a little bit better together."
In the two losses against the two best teams it has faced, North Carolina has shot a combined 40.2 percent, including 8 of 30 from 3-point range, committed 27 turnovers and been outrebounded 88-71. The Tar Heels had the edge on the boards in all five of their wins and shot 40.2 percent from beyond the arc.
While Williams is willing to live with the growing pains associated with young players, he expects more from sophomore James Michael McAdoo and junior Reggie Bullock. McAdoo, who was North Carolina's top reserve as a freshman, is averaging team highs of 15.9 points and 8.9 rebounds but went scoreless in the second half Tuesday. Bullock averages 11.6 points but was held to five.
McAdoo and Bullock hope to help the Tar Heels regroup as they begin what would seem to be a favorable three-game homestand that also includes dates with East Tennessee State and East Carolina. It's uncertain if North Carolina will have key reserve P.J. Hairston (10.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg) after he missed Tuesday's contest with a sprained left knee.
The Tar Heels last faced UAB (4-3) in the 2010 NIT, losing 60-55. Haase was at Williams' side in that contest but returns to Chapel Hill in his first year as coach of the Blazers. He had been working under Williams in various capacities since starting as an administrative assistant at Kansas in 1999.
Jordan Swing and Robert Williams each had 18 points while Rod Rucker added 10 with 12 rebounds as UAB beat Troy 75-55 on Tuesday. The Blazers bounced back after falling to Illinois State and TCU in consecutive games at the South Padre Invitational.
Swing has averaged 16.0 points on 55.6 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds in the last three games.
UAB has dropped 20 consecutive road games against Top 25 opponents since a 65-52 win at No. 20 Marquette on Jan. 7, 1998.