No. 7 North Carolina needs better defensive effort vs. Tennessee Tech

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After the last game, coach Roy Williams of No. 7 North Carolina expressed several areas of displeasure despite another victory for his team.

So the Tar Heels try to make amends in that regard Friday night when they take on visiting Tennessee Tech at the Smith Center.

Defense was at top of the list after a 90-72 whipping of Stanford, which outscored the Tar Heels by eight points in the second half.

"It was very frustrating to me," Williams said. "That was not the game we wanted to play, not the way we want to guard people. They shot 15 free throws in the second half."

So it gave Williams something to emphasize since that outcome Monday night pushed his team to a 3-0 record.

All of Stanford's foul shots came in the second half.

"(It) was like the matador, just run out there and let them drive right by you," Williams said. "Attention to detail."

The Tar Heels received the message from their coach.

"Coach is definitely upset and so are we," senior guard Cameron Johnson said. "They did some things that took advantage of us. We can't let that happen."

It might not come easy for all of the Tar Heels. Freshman Coby White has been in the starting lineup and he said he's trying to catch on better at the defensive end.

"It is a real adjustment because Coach wants us to pressure the ball the whole game and I am not really used to it," White said. "But I love the challenge and I feel like I can be a good defender."

Freshman forward Nassir Little said there's time to make the necessary upgrades.

"It is still early in the season so we're going to work on that and get better," Little said.

Tennessee Tech (0-3) had its best offensive output earlier this week in a 97-83 loss at Savannah State.

This marks the second of three consecutive road games for the Golden Eagles.

"You have to pass and catch, you have to box out and you have to go rebound the ball no matter what kind of pressure or style the other team uses," Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne said. "If you don't, you're not going to be successful."

Still, the Savannah State game marked progress.

"I felt we played better than we did (against Presbyterian)," Payne said, noting improvement since the second game of the season.

Micaiah Henry tops Tennessee Tech's scoring with 15.3 points per game. Yet freshman Hunter Vick tallied 22 points in the Savanah State game, becoming the program's first freshman since 2011 to produce a 20-point outing.

Senior forward Courtney Alexander Jr., whose father was the NCAA scoring leader in 1999-2000 for Fresno State before becoming an NBA Draft choice, averages 11.7 points per game for Tennessee Tech.

The only previous meeting between the teams came with North Carolina winning Dec. 12, 1999 at home by 85-59. The Tar Heels were ranked No. 7 for that matchup as well.

North Carolina is going for its 200th nonconference victory in the Smith Center, which opened midway through the 1985-86 season. The Tar Heels are 199-16 in the building against non-league foes.
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