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November 22, 2011

UNC earns passing grade

An unselfish Carolina basketball team is a dangerous team.

The top-ranked Tar Heels cruised to a 102-69 victory on Tuesday, their second straight game in triple figures.

Whenever Carolina made the so-called extra pass rather than trying to go one-on-one, the Tar Heels scored in bunches and stretched its lead.

"We had 32 assists," Coach Roy Williams said. "That is most of any team that I've had since I've been back here: 32 assists on 41 baskets is really a good percentage."

When the players settled for quick shots and looked to do more as individuals, the lead shrank. This team is so gifted, so talented and so capable when it comes to passing the ball for superior shots, shots that many teams in the country cannot even dream about getting on a regular basis.

It simply makes no sense for players to go one-on-one.

"I don't look at the score very much, but it was 33-17, I believe," Williams said. "We had five straight plays where we were very selfish and all of a sudden it was 35-29. I jumped them. You have to stay away from those moments.

"When we share the basketball, we have a chance to be really effective."

Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall became the first player in school history to have three games of 15 or more assists. He had 15 with four turnovers on Tuesday.

But he was far from being the only one making passes. Junior big man John Henson had his second straight game in which he displayed a talent for passing. He had six assists and just one turnover.

"John is a great passing big man," Marshall said. "The way John sees the floor for a big man is phenomenal."

This game did have some significant scoring. After struggling with a knee injury and an inconsistent performance shooting the ball in his time here, sophomore guard Reggie Bullock had an excellent game. He went 8-of-10 from the floor, 6-of-7 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 23 points.

He's now made nine 3-pointers in the last two games after going 1-of-4 in the opening two.

"The first couple of games I was worried about my shot too much," Bullock said. "I know coming off the bench, I have to bring something to add to this team. I know my shooting ability will open the floor for John and [Tyler Zeller] inside the paint.

Bullock admitted that seeing the ball go through the bucket eased his mind.

"It's a big relief," Bullock said. "I've been thinking about my shoot so much, 'I need to make shots; that's what I'm here for.'

"I just came out tonight not thinking about it. I just caught it and shot it."

Bullock said he believes he will shoot more consistently if he takes care to get his game started on the defensive end of the floor.

"I have to be more confident and come out and start on the defensive end," he said, "getting steals, leak-outs, just playing as a team. Once I get rolling on the defensive end, my offense will come."

Bullock's teammates were excited about his success on offense. They know how hard he worked to come back from his knee injury last season and how much he has tried to regain his shooting touch.

"It was beautiful," Henson said. "He's been in the gym the last couple of days a lot and putting up a lot of shots. I told him the basketball gods want him to put some shots up in their kingdom and you'll be fine. I used that analogy before the game and you see what kind of game he had."

On a more serious note, Bullock said he's convinced that if the Tar Heels will continue to play unselfishly they can be as good as they want to be.

"When we move the ball, I don't think any team in the nation can beat us," Bullock said. "Everybody plays together, we bond and everybody starts scoring."


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