North Carolina-Richmond Preview

The Associated Press

Still without two key players, coach Roy Williams is eager to see how his North Carolina team responds to a frustrating defeat on its home floor.

The No. 24 Tar Heels don't expect an easy time Saturday when they face Richmond in the Hall of Fame Tipoff at Uncasville, Conn.

North Carolina (2-1) dropped 12 spots in the AP Poll after falling 83-80 to Belmont on Sunday. The result snapped the Tar Heels' 82-game home winning streak against unranked, non-conference opponents that dated to Feb. 20, 2002. It also might be the latest indication of how much they miss top returning scorer P.J. Hairston and key reserve Leslie McDonald.

Yet to play this season while the school continues to review concerns about their eligibility, Hairston and McDonald will not be with the team for this weekend's two-game slate, which wraps up Sunday against either third-ranked Louisville or Fairfield. Williams, however, wants to see how those players who will be on the court regroup from their latest performance.

"I want to see how we handle some adversity," he said. "I want to see how we bounce back.

"I want us to improve in every area of the game."

The Tar Heels shot 48.3 percent - 10 percent better than last Friday's 62-54 win over Holy Cross - but their troubles at the free throw line grew more alarming. After going 22 of 48 from the stripe against Belmont, North Carolina is shooting a dismal 55.8 percent (48 of 86) through three games.

The problem, though, has not been confined to this season.

Since the Tar Heels were 18th in the nation while shooting 75.2 percent from the line during their 2008-09 championship season, they shot 67.1 percent over the next four seasons to rank 265th.

"It's a problem, and it's something we realize," Williams said. "We've got to try to make sure that we correct any technical problems and give them guidance to take care of the mental problems."

James Michael McAdoo had a career-high 27 points with 13 rebounds Sunday, but went 11 of 19 from the line. Teammate J.P. Tokoto missed eight straight free throws during one stretch, and finished 4 of 16 from the stripe. He's 8 for 25 this season.

Williams also wants to see to some better overall defense after Belmont shot 48.1 percent to take a seven-point halftime lead, and 45.3 percent for the game.

"I thought we did make some great strides and were much better offensively against Belmont, but defense, we were not there," Williams said.

Though the Tar Heels are 14-2 all-time against Richmond (3-1) and have won six straight in the series, the teams last met Nov. 19, 1997 in Virginia. The Spiders also handed Belmont its only defeat of the season, 69-61 at home Nov. 11.

"(That) should get our guys' attention," Williams said.

Senior guard Cedrick Lindsay averages a team-leading 19.0 points, and had 26 during Tuesday's 74-63 overtime victory over Hofstra.

The Spiders, whose lone loss came against Minnesota, 74-59 last Saturday, went 1-3 against ranked opponents last season. They beat local rival and then-No. 19 VCU 86-74 in overtime Jan. 24.

What to Read Next