ATLANTA – The headline from North Carolina’s 85-69 win over Maryland in an ACC tournament quarterfinal Friday is this: John Henson’s left wrist apparently isn’t broken.
All else was secondary Friday in the top-seeded Tar Heels’ first game of the tourney, although there was much to like if you were a UNC fan. Kendall Marshall set the ACC single-season record for assists during the game. The Tar Heels never trailed. UNC had five players scoring in double figures, all of them scoring from 13 to 15 points.
And James Michael McAdoo (14 points, eight rebounds) had a nice game in 29 minutes after Henson’s first-half fall. Coach Roy Williams said McAdoo had “upgraded” both his work ethic and his attention to detail recently and that he thought McAdoo was the “story of the game” along with Marshall’s record-setting run of assists.
As for Henson’s wrist: Henson went down driving to the basket on a hard fall after a foul by a Maryland player that Williams said “wasn’t a bad play.” Henson started shaking his left wrist immediately. He shot his free throws, came out, went back in and then came out for good, ending up playing only seven minutes and none in the second half.
Williams said Henson had X-rays at Philips Arena and that the doctors and trainers “don’t think it’s a break.”
“He had trouble catching and gripping the basketball,” Williams said. “That left hand is his dominant hand, even though he is right-handed.”
Williams said he would have put Henson back in the game if the ACC Defensive Player of the Year had felt comfortable. Henson will be re-evaluated Friday night and Saturday morning to decide whether he can play in the Tar Heels’ Saturday semifinal.
“Something like this could have happened in practice,” Williams said, “but you do hate for it to happen.”
“We’re hoping for the best and praying it’s not the worst,” said Marshall, who had 13 points and 12 assists in the game.
The Tar Heels did give up 30 points to Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin, the ACC’s leading scorer. But no other Terrapin had more than 11 and Maryland shot 38.7 percent as a team.
Reggie Bullock led the Tar Heels with 15 points as the Tar Heels played plenty well enough without Henson to win. If Henson does return quickly to full strength, this game at least should give the Tar Heels more confidence that they can get along for long stretches without their best defensive player.