North Carolina's Joel Berry II (2) is congratulated by Kenny Williams (24), Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye, rear, following Berry's basket against Wake Forest late in UNC's 73-69 win Saturday. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina entered the season with the possibility that its best lineup might be a small one as opposed to the two-post look that Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams prefers. The No. 13 Tar Heels certainly needed it to win its Atlantic Coast Conference opener Saturday.
The Tar Heels used point guard Joel Berry II, shooting guard Kenny Williams, small forwards Theo Pinson and Cameron Johnson, and 6-foot-8 inside-out forward Luke Maye for the bulk of its game-ending 8-0 run against Wake Forest in the final 3-plus minutes.
"We went with the experience more at the end," Roy Williams said. "Cam was the only non-returning player that we had out there at the end, just for more experience and trying to do a better job defensively."
Williams has proven he's not afraid to go small in recent years, though he's constantly concerned with rebounding and having reliable enough inside play to get opponents in foul trouble. But he might have to stick with the smaller group if he keeps getting so little from his bench behind Johnson as the sixth man.
Johnson, Pinson, Maye, Berry and Williams all played at least 27 minutes while 6-9 freshman starter Garrison Brooks played 22. The other five reserves managing two points, four rebounds and three turnovers. And his team's overall struggles left Roy Williams in a grumpy mood when asked about the success of the small lineup.
"I wish I had a lineup that I liked today," he said, "because I did not see one out there."
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