Kentucky isn’t the only team to visit the Bahamas this month.
While Kentucky has moved to 4-0 on its tour, North Carolina, another projected top 10 team, began its trip with an 84-83 loss to the Providence Storm on Friday night in Nassau.
Unfortunately, problems with Internet connection inside the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium led to no live stats for the contest, however, Greg Barnes of Scout affiliate, InsideCarolina.com was there to live tweet and post a game recap.
The Tar Heels led, 76-68, with four minutes to play, but the Storm were able to climb back into the game with its shooting, aided by UNC’s missed free throws. Providence took the lead off a 3-pointer with under 20 seconds to play. Barnes broke down the final moments:
Ernest Saunders connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 18.1 seconds to electrify the local crowd of 200 and finalize the scoring. On UNC’s final possession, junior guard Marcus Paige broke his man down off the dribble and drove down the left side of the lane, but his driving shot was off the mark. A pair of offensive rebounds and attempted putbacks off the right side failed to fall for the Tar Heels.
For the final minutes, Roy Williams went with the lineup of Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, and his three freshmen, Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. Isaiah Hicks led UNC in scoring with 13. Meeks and Jackson followed with 10 points. Paige shot 3-for-15 for nine points.
Shooting was not a bright spot for the Tar Heels, connecting on only 3-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Friday night’s result was much different than other high-major teams down in the Bahamas. Kentucky has won all four games by at least a dozen points, and last week Ohio State defeated the Providence Storm, 115-63. But it’s obvious, given the lineup for the final minutes, that Williams was looking to get his freshmen some late-game experience. Although, a loss in the summer is no indication of what a team will accomplish during the season, with Wisconsin’s loss to a Canadian powerhouse in 2013 as the prime example.
North Carolina looks to bounce back from its disappointing performance in its second and final game in the Bahamas on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. against the Bahamas All-Stars.