John­son on fire; Wil­liams still off in win over Elon

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JONATHAN M. ALEXAN­DER jalexan­der@new­sob­server.com Alexan­der, 919- 829- 4822; @jon­malexan­der

North Carolina’s road game against Elon was de­signed to create ex­cite­ment for its brand new 5,100-seat arena. The Schar Cen­ter was full, and the stu­dent sec­tion made cheer sheets to an­tag­o­nize UNC’s play­ers on Fri­day night.

But the ex­cite­ment quickly di­min­ished as the Tar Heels made easy work of the Phoenix, win­ning 116-67.

“I keep telling our guys let’s run, run, run and hope­fully take some­one’s legs away,” UNC coach Roy Wil­liams said. “I don’t know if it’s any­thing we did or if it was a just a tough night for them.”

“But they couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the sec­ond half and we started run­ning a lit­tle bit bet­ter and re­bound­ing to­tals were much bet­ter in our fa­vor for us in the sec­ond half as well.”

UNC picked up its sec­ond win of the sea­son be­fore its home-opener against Stan­ford (2-0) on Mon­day.

Here are some ob­ser­va­tions from UNC’s win:

CAM JOHN­SON’S GOOD START

Cam John­son has got­ten off to a hot start. He had 21 points ( 7-for-11) on Fri­day, which was tied for the team lead. He hit his first five shots.

Through the first two games, John­son is av­er­ag­ing 19 points per game, shoot­ing 65 per­cent from the floor and 70 per­cent from 3-point range.

Last sea­son John­son dealt with mul­ti­ple in­juries, in­clud­ing back, knee, shoul­der and hip. His hip has both­ered him since high school and ham­pered his abil­ity to move freely. John­son had an arthro­scopic pro­ce­dure to fix the prob­lem and he says it has helped.

“My range of mo­tion is a lot bet­ter and it’s a lot more com­fort­able,” John­son said. “I feel like I can move my bet­ter and kind of just get to where I need to go in­stead of feel­ing like I’m kind of on ice on the court.”

John­son, who is 6-9, 210 pounds, missed the first 11 games of the 201718 sea­son and said said he feels more com­fort­able with the of­fense.

“I just feel like I’m in a bet­ter place,” John­son said. “I know what Coach wants and I know what my body is ca­pa­ble of, and I’m learn­ing still and just try­ing to keep get­ting bet­ter.”

COBY WHITE SET­TLING IN

Coby White, a 6-5, 185pound fresh­man, said Tues­day he was the most ner­vous he’s ever been in a game. He was 3-for-10 from the floor, and had two turnovers, both in the first half.

Tak­ing care of the bas­ket­ball has been a point of em­pha­sis for Wil­liams.

White has set­tled down. He scored 14 points and had two as­sists on Fri­day and only com­mit­ted one turnover.

“Jit­ters,” White said of the dif­fer­ence in his per­for­mances. “I played more com­fort­able to­day. I played with bet­ter pace. Top of the key, top of the key as fast as pos­si­ble. I fo­cused on not turn­ing it over. You’ve just got play but still think at the same time.”

Backup point guard Sev­enth Woods also took bet­ter care of the ball. He had five as­sists and zero turnovers.

KENNY WIL­LIAMS STRUG­GLING WITH HIS SHOT

The 6-4, 185-pound Kenny Wil­liams has strug­gled with his shot in the first two games of the sea­son. Wil­liams, who av­er­aged 11.4 points per game last year and shot 40 per­cent from be­hind the 3-point line has not made a shot through two games.

He was 0-for-7 on Fri­day, and is now 0-for-10 for the sea­son. He ap­peared up­set, throw­ing his hands in the air af­ter his last two missed shots.

Roy Wil­liams said he was not con­cerned with Kenny Wil­liams’ shot.

“You know he got over in front of our bench and wiped up the wa­ter,” Roy Wil­liams said. “So I told him he got some­thing ac­com­plished tonight and he turned into a man­ager and did a good job of that.

“No, he’s one of our best shoot­ers. It’s not go­ing in the hole for him right now. But I’m also a guy that be­lieves I’m not go­ing to give him any point­ers. His shot is good, just keep prac­tic­ing and keep pos­i­tive thoughts and keep shoot­ing the ball when you’re open. I think it will keep go­ing in.”

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