So far, N.C.'s Jamison is can't-miss freshman Forward's inside game powers win over Terps

January 07, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- North Carolina began last week looking for a go-to guy.

The Tar Heels have found him, and his name is Antawn Jamison.

Jamison scored 26 points in a rout of North Carolina State in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener, and the 6-foot-8 freshman was even bigger last night, getting the last two of his game-high 31 points at the buzzer in overtime, as the Tar Heels knocked off Maryland, 88-86, at Cole Field House.

The Tar Heels were supposed to slide back to the middle of the pack in the ACC after the early departures of Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse to the NBA, but North Carolina's prospects look stronger with each game that Jamison plays.

Jamison, who is averaging 16.3 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds, isn't supposed to be the best freshman forward at North Carolina. He was North Carolina's Mr. Basketball for Providence High in Charlotte, but Vince Carter of Daytona Beach, Fla., was a first-team USA Today All-American.

"Oh yeah, I give him grief about that," Jamison said. "All the expectations in the world were on him coming into this season. I've just been able to go out and play without people expecting a lot from me."

The expectations are growing. The departures of Wallace and Maryland's Joe Smith left a void in the ACC lane, and Jamison likely is going to get a lot out of his low-post game this season. He missed two of his first three shots last night, then made his last 13 en route to the best scoring total by a Tar Heels freshman since J. R. Reid also had 31 against Notre Dame in March 1987.

"Somehow, I just found myself getting open," Jamison said. "The shots I was taking were itty-bitty, right around the basket, and you can't miss those. This is my first year in the ACC, and we've already played a heck of a two games. That's an unbelievable way to end your first road game in the ACC. That was a very big test for us."

Jamison's game-winner came on a frantic feed from senior guard Dante Calabria, who won the scramble for a loose ball in the lane and flipped it toward the basket.

"Dante made a real heads-up play," Jamison said. "Everyone saw him on the ground and collapsed toward him. I just went for the ball, and it came to me."

Calabria had 16 of his 21 points in the first half, but when Maryland's Johnny Rhodes shut him down in the second half, the Tar Heels looked inside to Jamison.

"Antawn kept us within striking distance," Calabria said. "He hit a couple of big buckets."

He hit more than a couple. North Carolina's overtime offense consisted of a three-pointer by Calabria and four baskets by Jamison.

The Tar Heels are learning that good things happen when they get the ball to Jamison.

"No one was predicting much out of us, but we know this team is capable," Jamison said. "We knew we could come in and do this."

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