College Basketball: Spears, Sherrill shine for Charlotte
CHAPEL HILLó Marcus Ginyard was on the North Carolina bench nursing a sore foot, the same one that caused him to miss nearly all of last season. Dexter Strickland sat nearby, resting an aching leg following a practice injury.
For a team already short on perimeter players, it’s exactly what the 11th-ranked Tar Heels don’t want to see.
Their absences didn’t matter much Saturday night, with North Carolina’s big front line dominating the paint in a 103-64 win against Presbyterian. But with second-ranked Texas looming next weekend and the Atlantic Coast Conference opener less than a month away, the Tar Heels are hoping Ginyard and Strickland are quick healers.
Ed Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Tar Heels (8-2), who were playing for the first time since last weekend’s loss at Kentucky. The school began final exams Friday, and they don’t play again until traveling to Cowboys Stadium to face the Longhorns.
Coach Roy Williams is hoping that will give both players enough time to be back at full speed, though Ginyard’s injury history makes the pain in his left foot more worrisome.
“He’s had an X-ray, he’s had an MRI, he’s had a bone scan,” Williams said. “We’ve done everything we can. We feel really, really comfortable and we’re trying to be very conservative. That’s probably the best way to put it. There’s nothing that’s shown up yet except Marcus’ pain that has made us worry.”
The school announced Friday night that Ginyard wouldn’t play against the Blue Hose (2-8) as a precaution, saying it was unrelated to the stress fracture that limited him to three games before redshirting last season. Ginyard is the Tar Heels’ top perimeter defender and veteran leader who is averaging 10 points per game.
Ginyard said the pain began after Monday’s practice and he feels it walking around.
“Obviously a lot of people were worried about the fact that I didn’t play,” Ginyard said. “But we’re just trying to take some time to rest it and make sure it’s ready for (Texas).”
Strickland, a freshman who backs up Larry Drew II at the point, sat out with a sore left hamstring after a practice injury Friday. Williams said Strickland was ruled out Saturday morning with stiffness in the leg.
The injuries provided more drama around the Tar Heels than the game itself. North Carolina shot 54 percent, dominated the boards and ran out to a 32-5 lead in the first 10 minutes, then led by as many as 47 points after halftime.
In fact, the most interesting moment in the second half came when Williams motioned from the bench to have a fan ejected from the lower level of the Smith Center. The fan, sitting about 20 rows directly behind the Tar Heel bench, had yelled for North Carolina senior Deon Thompson to miss a free throw with about 7 minutes left.
“I don’t think anybody should yell anything negative at our players, period,” Williams said. “Let’s don’t make it a bigger thing than it is. I just don’t think anybody should yell negative things toward our players who come in on our tickets to watch our games.”
Williams declined to comment further, while team spokesman Steve Kirschner said afterward that security officers who removed the fan believed him to be intoxicated and that he was not in his ticketed seat.
“Coach has a lot of pull around here, huh?” Thompson said. “To be able to get somebody kicked out of a game, that’s pretty impressive.”
Davis finished 6 of 8 from the field and at one point had outscored Presbyterian 13-12 with about 51/2 minutes left in the opening half. Thompson finished with 19 points, while 6-foot-10 freshman John Henson had 11 points to go with nine rebounds and knocked down a pair of 3s.
Drew finished with 12 points and nine assists with just one turnover, while sophomore Justin Watts ó who started for Ginyard ó finished with nine points and four rebounds.
North Carolina took a 48-26 edge on the glass, including 17 offensive rebounds that led to 30 second-chance points.
Chase Holmes scored a career-high 29 points for Presbyterian.
“They got the ball inside and we had a tough time blocking them out,” Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said. “They can just hurt you in so many ways, and even losing Ginyard, they didn’t miss a beat.”