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Early-season grind getting UNC ready for return trip to Charlotte

Joe Giglio, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Basketball

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Davidson was hitting shots early and testing North Carolina on Friday night.

That was fine with Joel Berry. The tougher the better for UNC's star senior.

"You don't want to schedule bad teams early in the season," Berry said. "You want to see where you're at as a team."

Turns out, the Tar Heels (7-1) are in pretty good shape. Berry made sure of that with a game-high 27 points, and Luke Maye added 24 points and 17 rebounds in an 85-75 win over the Wildcats.

This breakneck early-season schedule already has an NCAA Tournament feel to it for the Tar Heels and not just because for the second week in a row there will be a very March-like Friday-Sunday set of games.

In the past week, UNC has faced three great coaches in Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Michigan's John Beilein and Davidson's Bob McKillop. And going back to a game with Arkansas, the Tar Heels have seen a range of different playing styles.

 

"Just this whole stretch will be good for us," said Berry, who made four of UNC's five 3-pointers.

Coach Roy Williams wasn't sure when he made the schedule if his team, with three new starters and five freshmen, could handle it.

"That schedule is probably a little more challenging than I should have made it," said Williams, noting his group will end up playing 10 games in 27 days.

With the teams Williams had the previous two years, both of which played in the national title game, he had no such anxiety.

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