Long Beach State vs North Carolina

Tar Heels outlast Long Beach St.

CBSSports.com wire reports

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- If John Henson and Reggie Bullock keep shooting like this, fourth-ranked North Carolina is going to be even tougher to defend.

Henson had 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Bullock added 15 points off the bench to spark the decisive spurt, helping the Tar Heels beat Long Beach State 84-78 on Saturday night.

Henson, a 6-foot-10 forward, has long been a defensive specialist who uses his long arms to pull down rebounds in traffic or swat away shots. But he made 12 of 17 shots for the Tar Heels (8-2), many on long jumpers. Meanwhile, Bullock scored eight in a row to help ignite a 13-2 run that gave North Carolina some breathing room against Casper Ware and the 49ers (4-5).

While Harrison Barnes (20 points) and Tyler Zeller (17) had their typically solid scoring outings, any offensive improvement from Henson and Bullock could be a significant boost.

"I think it's just practicing all summer and then hitting the shots in the game is something that builds more confidence than anything," Henson said. "That's what I've been doing, hitting them in practice and building off of it and trying to become a complete player."

More on Long Beach St.-N. Carolina

The junior got off to a fast start offensively, scoring 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first half. But Henson made his biggest impact with his trademark defense by blocking layups -- on one, he grabbed the ball with two hands and snatched it away from T.J. Robinson -- on three separate possessions in the final 4 minutes. Long Beach State trailed by just six each time, the last coming when Henson blocked a shot from Ware in the lane with about 30 seconds left.

"I think he made some jump shots and yet I think that is fool's gold sometimes," coach Roy Williams said. "Our chances are better with Reggie or Harrison shooting and John rebounding as opposed to the opposite way. John took one down the stretch that I didn't want him to take, but in the second half, I thought he was so much more effective offensively than just shooting jump shots. He got involved defensively. He blocked some shots that were huge for us. John is just getting better and better."

To listen to Bullock, it was easy to see Henson's big performance coming. The two shoot together during pregame warm-ups, and both Henson and Bullock said Henson wasn't missing.

"When he hit those big shots at the top of the free-throw line to start the game off, I was like, `Yeah, he's still feeling it from pregame,"' Bullock said.

Bullock did his best to keep pace. He hit two 3-pointers in his personal 8-0 run, the second snapping a 59-all tie and starting the run that ended with Henson's dunk off a feed from Bullock for a 72-61 lead with 8:41 left. It was his second straight game with 15 points.

"It's huge for us," Barnes said. "This whole year, we've been impressing on him to get in the gym and work on his game, and it was evident tonight by him coming off the bench and giving us the lift that we needed."

In addition, Kendall Marshall tied his career high with 16 assists for the Tar Heels, while Zeller's hook shot 90 seconds in gave him 1,000 career points.

While the Tar Heels led by as many as 11, they couldn't pull away and had to keep making plays into the final seconds to secure this one. Ware finished with a career-high 29 points for Long Beach State, which shot 47 percent, outrebounded the bigger Tar Heels and led 45-40 at halftime. Larry Anderson added 17 points and Robinson finished with 12.

"We don't feel like we're the Washington Generals," Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said. "We feel like we can play in these games. And yet sometimes you have to say that you got beat. I don't feel like we lost. I felt like they came in and had to beat us."

North Carolina shouldn't have had any thoughts of an easy victory coming in. Long Beach State tore up the Tar Heels' defense last December, cutting a 17-point second-half lead to two points with about 8½ minutes left before UNC's offense carried the Tar Heels to a 96-91 victory. This season, the 49ers won at then-No. 9 Pittsburgh and cut a 19-point deficit to five with 3 minutes left in Tuesday's 88-80 loss at No. 13 Kansas.

In last year's meeting, Robinson scored a career-high 31 points and the 49ers shot 52 percent with10 3-pointers.

This time it was Ware, who had 14 points and hit four 3-pointers in the first six minutes. Then Anderson hit a pair of 3s in the final 90 seconds to give the 49ers a 45-40 lead at halftime.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
John Henson powers No. 4 North Carolina over Long Beach State with 24 points and 10 rebounds. (US Presswire)
John Henson powers No. 4 North Carolina over Long Beach State with 24 points and 10 rebounds. (US Presswire)
Long Beach State (4-5)453378
North Carolina #4 (8-2) «404484
LBST:C. Ware 29 Pts
LBST:T. Robinson 12 Reb
LBST:C. Ware 5 Ast
NC:J. Henson 24 Pts
NC:J. Henson 10 Reb
NC:K. Marshall 16 Ast

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Long Beach StateNorth Carolina
Casper Ware
John Henson
Long Beach State 49ers
C. Ware, G3712-241-145129
L. Anderson, G366-113-653217
T. Robinson, F366-170-0120112
E. Phelps, F253-51-14047
J. Ennis, G-F212-30-02334
M. Caffey, G243-60-03117
E. Dervisevic, F161-20-03422
N. Shepherd, F30-10-00000
P. Pappageorge, G20-10-00000
M. Vantrimpont, CDid Not Play
J. King, GDid Not Play
K. Richardson, FDid Not Play
S. Starkey, G-FDid Not Play
D. Jennings, FDid Not Play
C. Jackson, GDid Not Play
G. Djuma, FDid Not Play
K. Gulley, G-FDid Not Play
S. Hunter, GDid Not Play
Totals 33-705-833161478
North Carolina Tar Heels
K. Marshall, G361-60-031602
J. Henson, F3412-170-2102224
T. Zeller, F327-93-394417
H. Barnes, F328-161-132220
D. Strickland, G201-42-20114
R. Bullock, G246-100-042215
J. McAdoo, F100-30-03000
P. Hairston, G90-32-21122
J. Watts, G30-00-00000
L. McDonald, GDid Not Play
S. Cooper, FDid Not Play
P. Crouch, GDid Not Play
D. Dupont, FDid Not Play
D. Hubert, FDid Not Play
J. Simmons, FDid Not Play
S. White, GDid Not Play
Totals 35-688-1033281384
Big West
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
UC Irvine12-421-15133
UC Davis11-523-13166
CSNorthridge 7-911-19313
Cal Poly6-1011-20296
UC Riverside5-117-21330

TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
N. Carolina14-433-75
Florida St.12-626-914
Notre Dame12-626-1023
Va. Tech10-822-1148
Miami (Fla.)10-821-1242
Wake Forest9-919-1439
Georgia Tech8-1021-16106
NC State4-1415-17141
Boston College2-169-23219
Other games
HOW 48 Final
CREI 71 Final
St Joe's 80
Wash 80 Final
Cincinnati 53 Final
XAV 76
UNLV 51 Final
Wisc 62
Okla St 68 Final
Ohio St 67 Final
Kansas 78
HARV 76 Final
BU 52
Frl Dksn 58 Final
Louisville 80
TROY 68 Final
Miss St 106
Michigan 90 Final
OAK 80
NAVY 59 Final
Missouri 84
Kentucky 72 Final
Indiana 73
G Wash 50 Final
Syracuse 85
ULM 54 Final
Tx A&M 67
GB 61 Final
MU 79
Mich St 74 Final