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Off the cuff: Free throw shooting and poor three-point shooting against teams like Mississippi Valley State don't matter a lot for a deep, tall, solid team like North Carolina - but it will make a difference against ACC opponents, especially Duke. So, it's best to get that cleared up prior to the New Year.

Tar Heels 101, Mississippi Valley 75
One-man team can't beat cold Heels

North Carolina opened its home basketball schedule with a 101-75 victory over Mississippi Valley State despite cold-shooting from outside and 33 points by MVSU's Brent Arrington. (11/20) Click here for a photo gallery.

Luckily for the Tar Heels the rest of the Delta Devils team shot just 29 percent. The Heels had shooting woes of their own as they shot just slightly better than 50 percent from the free throw line (16 of 31) and slightly better than 25 percent (5 of 19) from the three-point line.

"We're a very good shooting team," said UNC's Tyler Zeller, who scored 16 points. "We've got to be able to step up and hit shots. Some people who were shooting wide open shots were maybe a little nervous and didn't know what to do, but it's something you've got to do, just step up and knock them down."

UNC's Dexter Strickland, who scored 13 points and did hit five of six free throws, addressed the shooting from the line. "We could have made more free throws (but) I think we did a great job attacking them and having the opportunity to go to the free throw line," he said. "My team did a great job of playing good defense and getting steals and fast breaks."

Eight Tar Heels played 14 or more minutes and six of them scored in double figures. Joining Zeller and Strickland were leading scorers Harrison Barnes and John Henson, who had 18 each, along with Reggie Bullock with 11 and James McAdoo with 10.

"We do realize we have four games in seven days," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "For Kendall (Marshall) to play 25 minutes and be the most minutes on the team, we like that part of it. Hopefully we'll be fresh and have a great practice tomorrow, too."

The Tar Heels host Tennessee State Tuesday night.


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