Wizards

No. 23 North Carolina beats McNeese State 97-63

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No. 23 North Carolina beats McNeese State 97-63

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) P.J. Hairston scored a career-high 20 points to help No. 23 North Carolina beat McNeese State 97-63 on Saturday.

Reggie Bullock added 17 points for the Tar Heels (9-3), who made 13 of 28 3-point attempts and never trailed. James Michael McAdoo scored 12 points, Leslie McDonald added 11 points, and Brice Johnson had 10 points for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels blew open the game early with a 22-4 run to take a 27-8 lead midway through the first half.

McDonald led the charge, scoring all of his points in the first half. He made his first two shots, both of which were 3-pointers, during the decisive run.

Jeremie Mitchell scored 13 points to lead the Cowboys (6-4), whose five-game winning streak ended.

Craig McFerrin added 10 points for McNeese State, which dropped to 0-4 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Tar Heels bounced back from an 85-67 loss at Texas on Wednesday night in which they shot 31 percent from the field, made 3 of 19 3-pointers and committed 18 turnovers.

North Carolina's 3-point shots fell early and often against McNeese State. Marcus Paige began North Carolina's 22-4 spurt with a 3-pointer, and Bullock ended it with a 3-pointer.

The Tar Heels shot 54 percent from the field in the first half, including 8 of 17 from 3-point range, en route to a 54-23 lead at halftime.

North Carolina took advantage of a porous zone defense by McNeese State. The Tar Heels whipped the ball around the perimeter to generate open looks, recording 18 assists and three turnovers in the first half.

When the long-range shots didn't fall, North Carolina simply rebounded and scored. The Tar Heels finished the game with more offensive rebounds (22) than McNeese State's total for defensive rebounds (21), scoring 21 second-chance points.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, struggled to score. They shot 36 percent from the floor in each half, making 3 of 17 3-point attempts in the game.

McNeese State managed only one field goal, a jumper by McFerrin, during a seven-minute stretch in the first half as the Tar Heels pulled away.

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Wizards' inclusion in Orlando restart is GM Tommy Sheppard's time to shine

Wizards' inclusion in Orlando restart is GM Tommy Sheppard's time to shine

One year ago this month, the Washington Wizards convened with the rest of the NBA for a stretch of games played at a neutral location. They put out a roster highlighted by Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr., their two most recent first round picks. It was a collection of young players assembled by newly-promoted general manager Tommy Sheppard.

That was the Las Vegas Summer League. One year later, the Wizards have taken a similar group to Orlando for the NBA's restart.

That is by no means a knock on their roster. In fact, the summer league may be a good baseline to compare from. With John Wall, Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans out of the mix, guys like Hachimura and Brown will have to lead the way on offense. It may be the most responsibility they have had on a team since then.

And with their top trio of players out, the final eight games (or more) at Disney World will be a very good test for the supporting cast Sheppard has built. Though he was in the front office, Beal and Wall preceded him taking over as GM. This roster is almost entirely comprised of players he acquired since assuming the job last spring, first in an interim role.

Of the Wizards in Orlando, all but three of them were acquired by Sheppard as GM. Those three would be Thomas Bryant, Ian Mahinmi and Brown.

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The rest are Sheppard's players and what that means is this final stretch of the season will be a good barometer of how he has done so far. He remade the roster around Beal and Wall while working within cumbersome salary cap constraints. Despite that, he has had a series of solid finds.

Hachimura has arguably exceeded expectations so far. Moe Wagner and Isaac Bonga have been productive after being acquired for essentially nothing in a trade last summer. Though Bertans isn't in Orlando, the same and more could be said about him.

Also in Orlando with the Wizards are Jerome Robinson, Ish Smith, Shabazz Napier, Jerian Grant, Anzejs Pasecniks, Admiral Schofield and Jonathan Williams III; all Sheppard acquisitions. Of that group, Robinson and Schofield are particularly interesting as it pertains to Sheppard. Both are expected to get the best opportunities at the NBA level in their careers so far.

Through two pro seasons, Robinson has always been behind stars on the depth chart. He has had to share a rotation with Beal this season and before that Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams in L.A.

Schofield was a second round pick in 2019, but spent most of this season in the G-League. How he plays at Disney will be a good indication of the Wizards' player development system from the top-down.

Sheppard put it in clear terms recently when talking about what he expects from his young players in Orlando.

"Everybody has to show value," he said. "They have to show us 'why are you here and why should we keep you on the roster moving forward?'"

Those players will be evaluated closely to see who is worth holding onto going into next year, when the team will have higher expectations once Wall returns from his Achilles injury. Either way, a lot of these guys will probably be back.

The team won't have much money to spend in free agency. They will have two draft picks and can make trades. But the team in Orlando could resemble the core supporting cast Beal and Wall will be rolling with next season. It's time to see what they can do.

If the Wizards' young players surprise and make the playoffs in Orlando, it will be a sign the team is ahead of schedule under Sheppard. No matter the adjusted postseason format, that would be an impressive feat. They have a scaled-down roster facing a scaled-up schedule, as the NBA only brought its 22-best teams to Disney World.

Because of that, this will be a really good look at the margins of the roster. The Wizards' depth will be tested against a schedule of basically all playoff teams.

The Hachimura and Brown-led Wizards, by the way, went 2-3 in Summer League. That may be interesting to compare how they do in Orlando, given the roster similarities.

But more important will be the way Hachimura and Brown handle a larger role in the offense. What happens when they have to take more shots and when they are a greater focus of the defense will be interesting.

It may tell us a lot about the Wizards' future and the hands they are in, with Sheppard in charge.

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Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

Did you know Bill Belichick has deep ties to Navy football?

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Bill Belichick You Don't Know, explores the lesser-known side of the New England Patriots head coach.

On the outside, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems pretty easy to read. A man of few words -- at least to the media -- Belichick has made it clear that he has two things he cares about above all else: football and winning.

However, there is another side to the six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach that most may not be aware of. On the latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports, 'The Bill Belichick You Don’t Know’ takes a look at some lesser-known stories, facts and passions that Belichick has.

Among them all, one thing many may not know about the Patriots head coach is that he has deep ties -- and a strong love -- for Navy football. Yes, despite his longtime rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, Belichick does indeed have a soft spot for some football in the state of Maryland.

Belichick's connection to the Naval Academy football team stems from his father's history of coaching at the program. Steve Belichick, who passed away in 2005, spent 30 years as an assistant coach while also teaching classes at Navy.

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During that time, Bill Belichick became embedded in his father's world of football. Spending time so close to the team, he carried a close personal connection to the team and school. Being the football genius that he is, the head coach can still recall specific moments, players and uniforms from games that took place over 40 years ago.

Though Belichick now resides in New England, his relationship with Navy Football is as strong as ever. As NBC Sports' Peter King showed in 2019, Belichick and his father's legacy will remain in Annapolis forever as the school has a special archive named the "Belichick Collection."

RELATED: SPORTS UNCOVERED: SEAN TAYLOR, THE NFL SUPERSTAR WE DIDN'T GET TO KNOW

There, football books dating back 100 years can be found, and read. For a family dedicated to football, it's the perfect touch.

For as long as he is the head coach of the Patriots -- and even after -- Belichick may not be the most popular person in the state of Maryland. However, his lesser-known side shows that he does have at least one positive connection to football in the state. 

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

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