The good feeling brought about by the second-half comeback victory at Virginia Tech was tempered the next day when North Carolina learned it will be without starting guard Dexter Strickland for the rest of the season.
Strickland injured a knee in the win and will have to have surgery. He wasn't a big scorer for the Heels, but he shot well and was considered a good defender, maybe the best on the perimeter.
The Tar Heels, who improved to 16-3 overall and 3-1 in the ACC with the Jan. 19 win over the Hokies, will have the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments at home with games against North Carolina State and Georgia Tech coming up at the Smith Center. Coach Roy Williams has gone with the same starting lineup through the first 19 games.
Sophomore Reggie Bullock figures to replace Strickland. He averaged just under 19 minutes an appearance in playing in all 19 games off the bench.
He was scoring a point more a game than Strickland (8.4-7.5) and had a team-high 34 three-point field goals, shooting 38.6 percent from behind the arc.
--It will a bit ironic if sophomore G Reggie Bullock is the choice to take over for the injured Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup.
Bullock's freshman season was cut short when he injured his knee on Feb. 27, 2011, and had surgery on March 7. He averaged 6.1 points a game and finished third on the team with 29 three-point field goals, though he shot only 29.8 percent from behind the arc.
The other backcourt backup who played in all of Carolina's first 19 games was freshman P.J. Hairston. He averaged 7.5 points in just over 13 minutes a game.
--Junior F John Henson's five blocks against Virginia Tech gave him 60 for the season and 181 in his career.
His chances of equaling or surpassing Brendan Haywood's school-record 120 likely will depend on how far the Tar Heels, who have 12 regular-season games remaining, advance in the postseason.
With a minimum of four games (two in the ACC and NCAA tournaments), Henson would have to average nearly four a game to get to it. If the Heels get to the final game of the ACC tourney and to the NCAA's Final Four, that would be cut back to an average of three a game.
Haywood's career total was a school record 304. Henson's chances of getting that mark appear to depend on his decision whether to return for his senior season or enter the NBA draft.
--Sophomore G Kendall Marshall assist-production has dipped a bit against ACC opponents after he recorded 11 in the Tar Heels' conference opener. He has had 20 in the three games since after recording eight against Virginia Tech.
He has had 16 turnovers in the three games, including five against the Hokies.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1-2 -- North Carolina's win over Virginia Tech was the first for the Tar Heels in three true road games this season. The Tar Heels had lost by one point at Kentucky and by 33 at Florida State in their previous two road outings.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
--vs. North Carolina State, Jan. 26
The Wolfpack is still adjusting to life under first-year coach Mark Gottfried but has some guys who can score. Five players are averaging in double figures led by G Lorenzo Brown.
--vs. Georgia Tech, Jan. 29
KEY MATCHUPS: Junior G Glen Rice Jr. will test Carolina's new backcourt with his three-point shooting. Junior G Mofon Udofia also is an experienced hand. The Tar Heels should have a big advantage up front with Tyler Zeller and John Henson going against Tech's Kammeon Holsey and Daniel Miller.
FUTURES MARKET: Finding a replacement for injured starting G Dexter Strickland isn't the only impact of his injury. The eight-man rotation Coach Roy Williams was using now becomes seven with one proven option in the backcourt. Sophomore Reggie Bullock and freshman P.J. Hairston were the only backcourt reserves who had played in all of Carolina's first 19 games.
Junior G Dexter Strickland was averaging only 7.5 points a game but shooting 57 percent from the field and was tied for the team lead in steals (25) when he was injured early in the second half of North Carolina's win at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19. Though he walked off the floor under his own power after the game, tests the next day revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that requires surgery.
Sophomore F Harrison Barnes boosted his average to a team-leading 17.4 points a game with his season-high 27 points against Virginia Tech. His 46.3 three-point percentage (24-of-55) was the best on the team through Carolina's first 19 games.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I tell guys that I've played poorly on the front nine sometimes, but that doesn't mean you've got to play poorly on the back." -- Coach Roy Williams, using a golf analogy after his Tar Heels overcame a five-point halftime deficit on their way to a 14-point win at Virginia Tech.