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UNC basketball: Tar Heels lose first exhibition game in Bahamas

By Andrew Carter
acarter@newsobserver.com

North Carolina on Friday night took an 84-83 loss against the Providence Storm in an exhibition game in the Bahamas, and so it's time to press the ol' panic button, right? Not exactly. This was a meaningless game – and UNC's first pre-preseason game, at that.

Even so, the Tar Heels' defeat comes as a surprise, especially when you take into account that Ohio State beat the Storm 115-63 not too long ago. UNC's game wasn't televised and it wasn't streamed online, either, so I didn't watch it.

Given that, there's only so much to say when you're writing about something you didn't see. Apparently, though, UNC gave up a 14-5 run to close the game, and the Storm went ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left. The Tar Heels led by eight points with three minutes left and then, trailing by one in the final seconds, missed several shots that could have won the game.

These preseason exhibition tours to foreign countries – teams can take them once every four years, under NCAA rules – are always more about wins and losses. They're about the experience, and about learning a thing or two before the start of practice in October.

So UNC coach Roy Williams likely learned a thing or two about his team. One troubling aspect of this game: the same problems that afflicted UNC last season cost the Tar Heels on Friday night. They shot a poor percentage from the perimeter and at the free throw line.

According to the story on UNC's official site, the Tar Heels were 8-for-20 at the free throw line, and shot 12 percent from behind the 3-point line. (Inside Carolina, which is on site covering the team, reported that UNC made three of its 25 3-point attempts.)

Marcus Paige, who will likely enter the season as a preseason first-team All-American scored nine points. Isaiah Hicks, the sophomore forward, led UNC with 11 points, and Justin Jackson, the freshman forward, scored 10. Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, UNC's other two freshmen, both scored eight points.

One thing to note: Inside Carolina reported that DeAndre Ayton, the top-ranked high school prospect in the class of 2017, played for the Storm. He scored 17 points and had 18 rebounds.

The Tar Heels will be back at it on Saturday, same time (5 p.m.), against the Bahamas All-Stars.

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