CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Dec. 8, 2012) – Depleted by injuries and disappointing circumstances from earlier this season, the ETSU men’s basketball team is currently a shell of its normal self. That’s not a good thing when facing No. 20 North Carolina.
Shooting just 19 percent from the floor in the first half and scoring only 12 points before the break, the Buccaneers trailed by 30 at halftime and were simply no match for perennial powerhouse UNC in a 78-55 defeat Saturday evening inside the Dean E. Smith Center.
With the loss, ETSU drops to 2-5 on the season, while the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Tar Heels improved to 7-2 overall with the victory.
“North Carolina is really good defensively and that showed – especially in the first half,” said ETSU head coach Murry Bartow, whose team currently consists of just seven scholarship players. “I was proud of how we came out though and battled in the second half. Right now, all we are trying to do is get better. That’s what we have to focus on, especially during this stretch against teams like North Carolina, Ole Miss and Arizona.”
On the bright side, the Bucs got a game-high 18 points from sophomore Rashawn Rembert (Tampa, Fla.), while redshirt freshman Lester Wilson (Knoxville) posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, junior Hunter Harris (Nashville) netted 11 points.
For the Tar Heels – who posted 30 assists on 31 made shots for the game – Leslie McDonald led the way with 14 points, while Brice Johnson and Reggie Bullock scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.
In the first half, ETSU actually led 2-0 on a layup by Harris, and the Bucs’ defense was looking good, holding the Tar Heels’ offense in check for the most part. However, at that point ETSU’s offense went ice cold, and as the Bucs’ shooting suffered UNC hit its stride.
The Tar Heels went on a dominating 34-2 run and led by as many as 32 in the first half, ultimately shooting 49 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half got off to a better offensive start for ETSU, and the Bucs actually finished the final 20 minutes outscoring the Tar Heels, 43-36. In fact, ETSU finished the final 20 minutes shooting 44 percent from the floor, and 86 percent from the charity stripe.
By the end of the game, the Bucs increased their shooting percentage to 34 percent from the field, while UNC shot 43 percent. While they held the advantage on the glass, the Tar Heels only out-rebounded ETSU 45-41.
The Bucs will return to action next Friday, Dec. 14 at Ole Miss, with tip set for 8 p.m. in Oxford, Miss. For more on ETSU men’s basketball throughout the 2012-13 season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s hoops link.