LAHAINA - North Carolina once again is loaded with talent and among the top teams in the country, while Mississippi State is lightly regarded, short-handed and breaking in a new coach.
It didn't take long for their mismatch to unfold.
Leslie McDonald scored 21 points and fellow reserve P.J. Hairston added 18 as the Tar Heels dominated the Bulldogs in a 95-49 win Monday in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center.
North Carolina’s James McAdoo and Mississippi State’s Gavin Wade battle for a rebound during the second half of the Tar Heels’ 95-49 win over the Bulldogs on Monday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
North Carolina (4-0), No. 9 in The Associated Press rankings, scored the game's first nine points, led 49-17 at halftime and made the fourth-most 3-pointers in school history, going 15-of-32.
"We have a team that can shoot the basketball," said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, whose team will meet Butler today. "When we're consistent getting the ball inside and getting balance and inside scoring and guys shooting good 3-point shots, then we're a good team. If we do a little bit better job of running the floor and getting some baskets in the open court, then we'll be better."
The Tar Heels substituted liberally throughout the second half, and finished with a 51-8 advantage in bench points.
N. CAROLINA Tar Heels 95
MISSISSIPPI ST. Bulldogs 49
Reggie Bullock was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points for North Carolina. James Michael McAdoo and Dexter Strickland each added 10.
"We got everybody involved," Williams said. "We had 16 players play. The most minutes we had was James Michael, 23 minutes."
On defense, the Tar Heels got into passing lanes and contested numerous shots by the Bulldogs, who were 17-of-60 from the field and committed 21 turnovers.
"Offensively, I knew it would be a struggle," said first-year Mississippi State coach Rick Ray. "We kind of lost our composure and turned the ball over way too much. We have a lot to build on."
Roquez Johnson scored 12 points for the Bulldogs (1-2) in the program's first Maui game - they will play Marquette today. Wendell Lewis added 10 points.
Last week, Mississippi State lost Jalen Steele to injury, and Colin Borchert was suspended for a violation of team rules and didn't make the trip. The Bulldogs previously lost two freshmen who suffered season-ending knee injuries.
North Carolina put the game away early, going 19-of-35 in the first half, including 8-of-14 from 3-point range.
"Everybody started feeling good and the ball went in the basket," Williams said. "For us it started out real easy early."
The Tar Heels didn't need any breaks, but got one in the final seconds of the half. After Johnson missed a dunk, Hairston grabbed the long rebound, took a dribble and fired up a 55-footer that banked in as the buzzer went off.
"That is just a shot I practice maybe sometimes playing around before practice," Hairston said. "I knew at some point it was going to go in. I just threw it up and tried to aim it."
The Tar Heels have won their games this season by an average of 25.5 points.
"Chemistry-wise, I believe it starts in practice," Bullock said. "On the defensive end of the floor, once we start thinking about defensive intensity, then our deny and defensive skills, that is just the flow to our game."
* Kyle Sakamoto is at email@example.com
MISSISSIPPI ST. (49)
Thomas 2-12 2-2 7, Bloodman 2-7 2-3 6, Lewis 4-9 2-2 10, Johnson 4-13 3-4 12, Sword 2-8 2-6 6, Price 0-0 0-0 0, Ware 3-9 2-2 8, Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-60 13-19 49.
NORTH CAROLINA (95)
Strickland 4-10 1-2 10, Paige 1-7 0-0 2, Hubert 3-3 0-1 6, Bullock 5-6 2-2 16, McAdoo 4-8 2-2 10, James 1-3 0-0 2, McDonald 7-12 1-2 21, Moody 0-1 0-0 0, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 1-6 0-0 2, Hairston 7-11 0-0 18, Simmons 1-1 0-0 2, Tanner 0-3 0-0 0, Tokoto 2-6 0-0 4, Manor 1-1 0-0 2, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-78 6-9 95.
Halftime-North Carolina 49-17. 3-Point Goals-Mississippi St. 2-17 (Johnson 1-3, Thomas 1-10, Cunningham 0-1, Bloodman 0-1, Sword 0-2), North Carolina 15-32 (McDonald 6-9, Bullock 4-5, Hairston 4-7, Strickland 1-4, Tanner 0-1, Moody 0-1, Tokoto 0-2, Paige 0-3). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Mississippi St. 43 (Ware 9), North Carolina 47 (Johnson 8). Assists-Mississippi St. 6 (Bloodman 3), North Carolina 22 (Strickland 5). Total Fouls-Mississippi St. 11, North Carolina 16. A-2,400.