|ZELLER (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)|
The top-seeded Tar Heels didn’t turn in a rousing performance, but they had a danger-free afternoon and advanced to play Creighton on Sunday in the third round of the Midwest Regional. They also bought Henson another two days to recover.
“We know he’s either going to be with us or (we’re) without him,” point guard Kendall Marshall said. “If he’s in there, he can help us and that’s great for our team. If he’s not, we have other players who can step up.”
Against the 16th-seeded Catamounts (24-12), that meant another strong performance from freshman James Michael McAdoo starting in Henson’s place. McAdoo shook off a poor shooting start and finished with a season-high 17 points to give Zeller some help in the paint, including a one-handed tip slam off a missed 3-pointer from Reggie Bullock that sent the home-state crowd wearing plenty of light blue into a roar.
McAdoo also had consecutive three-point plays during the run that broke the game open after halftime.
“I kind of got down on myself a little because my shot wasn’t falling (early), but I was getting great shots,” McAdoo said. “That was what the coaches kept saying. I really just tried to play myself into the game on the defensive end and then just be aggressive.”
While McAdoo’s surge helped the Tar Heels improve to 30-1 in NCAA tournament games played in their home state, they know that the question of Henson’s return is becoming more urgent with each game. The 6-foot-10 junior is clearly the difference between Tar Heel “good” and Tar Heel “great.”
Williams said Henson looked better during a morning shootaround, including being able to palm the ball with his left hand, catch passes with both hands and make a couple of strong moves off the dribble.
Williams said the chances of Henson playing Sunday are “a little better than 50-50” considering his recent progress.
Harrison Barnes also finished with 14 points, while Marshall had 11 points and 10 assists for UNC.
The Tar Heels shot just 42 percent, but scored 24 points off 20 turnovers.
Vermont needed to shoot well to keep it close and they didn’t…