Dec. 1, 2012
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - UAB coach Jerod Haase tried not to dwell on the odd feeling he got while walking to the visitor's bench to play against North Carolina.
After spending nine years as an assistant to UNC's Roy Williams, Haase returned to the Smith Center as the Blazers' first-year head coach in Saturday's 102-84 loss to the No. 14 Tar Heels.
Haase described it as "just a little bit odd."
"To say that it was strange and awkward playing against North Carolina is an understatement," Haase said. "I never knew what it would be like to feel that way, but once the game got going, I was very into the game and trying to get our team to play the best they possibly could."
UAB's Jordan Swing, who had a season-high 21 points for the Blazers, said the players knew the game was special for their new coach.
"He probably wouldn't admit it, but I know there was a little something extra there," Swing said. "We felt it, too."
For North Carolina, Leslie McDonald scored a career-high 24 points in his first career start while James Michael McAdoo added 15 points and 12 rebounds
North Carolina (6-2) was coming off a loss at No. 1 Indiana, but the Tar Heels regrouped with a win despite playing without starting freshman point guard Marcus Paige due to a shoulder injury.
The Tar Heels shot 53 percent and had six players reach double figures, though they had trouble putting away Haase's Blazers.
UAB (4-4) trailed most of the day, but stayed within reach of the Tar Heels until the final 6 minutes.
The Tar Heels were coming off an 83-59 loss to the Hoosiers, which was the most lopsided nonconference loss for North Carolina since Roy Williams took over in 2003.
Strickland recorded a career-high nine assists, while McDonald turned in another strong performance in his return from a serious knee injury that cost him last season.
McDonald had set a career high with 21 points in the win against Mississippi State in Maui, then surpassed that by going 7 for 11 from the field and knocking down five 3-pointers.
Reggie Bullock added 17 points and P.J. Hairston had 16 for UNC.
UNC scored 67 points after halftime to reach 100 points for the second time this season.
The game also marked a homecoming for UAB director of operations Bobby Frasor, who was a senior guard on the Tar Heels' 2009 NCAA championship squad. UNC fans greeted both Haase and Frasor with loud cheers during pregame introductions.
Haase's team responded by staying within reach of the Tar Heels most of the day. Swing buried back-to-back 3-pointers at the end of the first half with UAB trailing 35-29.
After intermission, the Blazers continued to stay close, draining their first five 3-point shots. However, UNC was able to expand its lead, shooting an impressive 71.9 percent (23-for-32) in the second half, including 7-for-11 beyond the arc to earn the victory.
UAB sank a season-high 12 3-pointers on the night, as Swing went a perfect 5-for-5 from downtown. Like Swing, Terence Jones also posted a season-high in points with 17, while Robert Williams and Rod Rucker added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
UAB returns to the court on Wednesday, Dec. 5, taking on the Middle Tennesse Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Game time is set for 7 p.m. CT and the contest will air on ESPN3.