The 12th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will play host to the Holy Cross Crusaders in the first game of the Hall of Fame Tipoff for both squads.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels opened the season at less than full strength as starters P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sat with unresolved eligibility issues. Still, the team made light work of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the season lid-lifter, posting an 84-61 victory.
Milan Brown's Crusaders dropped their season opener to Harvard (82-72), but found the win column just three days later with Wednesday's 122-118 double- overtime shootout with Sacred Heart.
These two teams are meeting for just the third time, but the first since 1956. The series is tied 1-1, with North Carolina winning the last matchup on Dec. 22, 1956 (83-70).
There was plenty to like about Holy Cross' offensive performance against Sacred Heart, especially sophomore guard Cullen Hamilton and senior center Dave Dudzinski, who combined for 61 points in the marathon win. Hamilton was 11-of-21 from the floor and finished with a career-high 35 points. Dudzinski dominated in the low post, finishing with 26 points and 15 rebounds. The bench got involved in a big way also, with freshman forward Malachi Alexander pouring in 23 points, and grabbing 13 rebounds, while sophomore guard Eric Green chipped in with 10 points. The active Crusaders made an astounding 56 trips to the free-throw line in the win, knocking down 45 of their charity tosses.
The numbers are obviously skewed through two games, as Holy Cross is averaging 97 points per game, while allowing a ridiculous 100 per game. Dudzinski, an All-Patriot selection, has certainly looked the part, with averages of 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Hamilton earned all-league newcomer honors in 2012-13 and has started out strong again with 22.0 points per game. Alexander (15.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) has made an immediate impact as well.
McDonald is a facilitator and Hairston can score, but neither was needed in the rout of Oakland. North Carolina shot 60 percent from the floor in the game and dominated the play on the boards, outrebounding the Golden Grizzlies, 41-22. Five Tar Heels provided double-figure scoring, led by star forward James Michael McAdoo, who just missed a double-double with 21 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Paige added 14 points, J.P. Tokoto finished with 13, while Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson each tallied 10. The Tar Heels really asserted themselves in the paint, outscoring Oakland there 40-18. Still, an area of concern for UNC is ball control, with 18 turnovers in the game.