November 28, 1981
This is how it all started. North Carolina vs. Kansas. The first ever college game of "Mike Jordan".
Jordan picked two quick fouls at the beginning, so he had to sit for some time in the first half. The replays were quite rare but I included all of them along with announcers' comments on Jordan and a couple of James Worthy plays.
Jordan scored 12 points on 5-10 shooting. For the most part, his shots were jumpers under Dean Smith's famous four corners offense. He missed his first shot which was eerily similar to the game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Final game. He made his next three.
The end of the game is especially interesting. Announcers were talking about Kansas fouling Jordan because of his inexperience and they did. Even though it was his first trip to the line in the game, he managed to sink both of them under pressure.
Post game notes & quotes:
"UNC tops Jayhawks in opener" by A.J. Carr
Raleigh News and Observer
November 29, 1981
CHARLOTTE -- When your picture is splashed on magazine covers, you're ranked No. 1 in the polls and on everybody's most-wanted lists, getting your game together can be difficult.
But North Carolina pushed aside all the hoopla Saturday, went to the hoop and conquered stubborn, well-prepared Kansas, 74-67, in a season opener witnessed by 11,666 Coliseum fans.
The top-rated Tar Heels never had it easy, but they patiently pried open an eight-point spread midway through the second half, then fended off the Jayhawks.
"We played well offensively," said Carolina Coach Dean Smith, whose team defeated his alma mater on a 56.8 field-goal percentage. "They were willing to give us 10-footers. But we showed a lot of patience in attacking their zone."
Though the Jayhawks were intent on stopping the Tar Heels' inside attack, James Worthy still scored 20 points and Sam Perkins contributed 16.
Kansas also discovered that freshman Mike Jordan (12 points in his varsity debut), Matt Doherty (12) and Jimmy Black (9 plus seven assists) could land damaging blows.
"They finally realized we had outside shooting too," said Worthy. "That's what did it for us."
Carolina was wise in its shot selection, but Smith still spotted a few kinks in the system.
The Tar Heel coach was disappointed with rebounding and a shortage of second shots, and he felt that defense, with the exception of Black's work on Tony Guy, was sporadic.
"We got a win," said Doherty. "It wasn't great, but it was a good one to get under our belts. Offensively, we hit when we had to. Defensively, it takes a while to get everything working."
Kansas, which battled to a 37-37 half-time tie and led by as many as five on one occasion, got a 24-point production from radar-shooting David Magley and 18 points from Guy.
The Jayhawks also performed with confidence and skill against Carolina's special tactics, and trailed by only 67-63 with about four minutes remaining.
But over the 40-minute haul, the Tar Heels exhibited more depth than Kansas, which used the same five players most of the way and held a field goal, free throw and rebounding advantage.
The Tar Heels made their decisive move four minutes into the second half when, down 47-43, they went on a 12-0 tear for a 55-47 advantage.
Worthy wheeled for seven points during the stretch but got plenty of help. That was encouraging to the Tar heels, who were playing without Al Wood for the first time in four years.
"I felt real comfortable out there," said Jordan, the new kid in the lineup who went five for 10 from the field. " I felt good on my shots. I did throw a bad pass, though, and I need to help out more on defense."
Jimmy Black, who skillfully directed the offense, said, "We relied on Al Wood's shooting in the past, but this year several are picking up the slack. I like Jordan's overall game. He's a competitor and a hustler and we need him on the floor."
Jordan fits into the Tar Heel mod all right. but there's work for everybody, especially if you're the No. 1 team and No. 1 target in the country.
"This was a taste of the hard season to come," said Perkins, who collected nine rebounds and shared the honors with Worthy. "We will not let down in any way. I think we played very well today, and I think we did a good job inside. We got the ball in there at the right times."
Perkins, Worthy and associates also were opportunists. Late in the second half, Kansas lost its shooting eye for a spell and Caroline quickly capitalized.
"It's way too early to judge who's No. 1 in the country," said Kansas Coach Ted Owens, "But North Carolina is going to be a great club. This was their first game and it takes a while to get going no matter how many veterans you have."