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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Oakland never managed to find an offensive rhythm, protect the ball or knock down shots to make a game of it against No. 12 North Carolina.
For longtime coach Greg Kampe, that miserable opening half offered an early teaching moment in a tough first month of the season.
The Golden Grizzlies shot 21 percent and committed nine turnovers that sparked UNC's transition game in the first half of Friday night's 84-61 loss to the Tar Heels.
Oakland struggled early to run its offense with freshman point guard Kahlil Felder or slow the Tar Heels, but Kampe said his team regrouped in the second half while outscoring UNC 40-26.
"What I'm proud of is we started running our stuff," Kampe said. "And we took some time off the clock and we started guarding them a little bit, and we rebounded. We think we're a pretty good rebounding team, and the first half we didn't even try and rebound."
Oakland next faces No. 22 UCLA, and plays No. 2 Michigan State and No. 15 Gonzaga by Dec. 14.
"Like I told them, I said ... 'You can be disappointed. Everybody saw that and the first half was awful, but you're going to get another chance,'" Kampe said.
For UNC, J.P. Tokoto scored a career-high 13 points in his first start.
James Michael McAdoo had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels (1-0), who played without leading scorer P.J. Hairston and senior guard Leslie McDonald due to NCAA eligibility issues. Marcus Paige added 14 points and hit four 3-pointers, leading a dominating first-half performance that had UNC in control all night.
The Tar Heels ran off a 17-2 run to take a 19-point lead less than 9 minutes in, then nearly doubled that margin to 37 by halftime by shooting 74 percent (23 for 31) in their opening blitz.
Travis Bader scored 18 for the Golden Grizzlies (0-1), who couldn't match the Tar Heels' early energy and shot just 21 percent (6 for 29) in the opening half as UNC broke the game open.
For the Tar Heels, the performance was a welcome sight after all the turmoil that has hovered over the program since the summer.
Hairston — a 6-foot-6 junior who passed on the NBA draft — was cited by authorities in May and June while driving a rental vehicle linked to a felon and Durham party promoter, raising the possibility of an improper benefits violation. The school hasn't specified McDonald's issue, though UNC had to send a letter this summer ordering a company that makes designer mouth guards to stop using McDonald on a website promoting its brand.
McDonald had made at least one social media post last year about wearing one of the company's mouth guards. NCAA rules generally prohibit athletes from endorsing or promoting a company or product.
The school had said Thursday that neither player would suit up due to the "ongoing" review. Their absences meant a larger role for Tokoto — a 6-5 sophomore who averaged 2.6 points and 8.6 minutes last season — and more pressure on Paige to hit from outside while playing the wing instead of his normal point guard role.
Tokoto showed off an improved all-around game. He nailed a pair of mid-range jumpers and hit a first-half 3-pointer after managing just one all of last year, while also throwing a pair of passes for alley-oop dunks in the first half.
Paige hit three of his 3s during the 17-2 run that broke the game open, while McAdoo looked far more aggressive and efficient in his own strong start with the Tar Heels' first seven points. By the time Tokoto hit his 3 off a kickout from freshman Isaiah Hicks, the Tar Heels had built a 58-21 lead in the final minute before halftime.
UNC freshman Kennedy Meeks added 10 points and five rebounds in his first college game. The Tar Heels finished with 25 assists on 33 baskets.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap