The shoes? It’s got to be the shoes.
For seven straight games senior guard Leslie McDonald and junior forward James Michael McAdoo wore the same sneakers with pink highlights that North Carolina sported during its tribute to breast cancer awareness. The Tar Heels' 80-61 win over Clemson happened to coincide with the start of their current winning streak.
It wasn’t until Thursday night, however, that McDonald and McAdoo switched things up. McDonald went with a gray pair of shoes with Carolina blue highlights. It marked just the second game this season he led the team in scoring.
“My cousin showed me these type of shoes that looked pretty nice with our jerseys,” McDonald said. “… Me and Mac decided for the Duke game we would switch it up and go with all Carolina blue, no pink, just going out there in Carolina blue, and we did it.”
McDonald entered Thursday night’s game in a shooting slump. He posted back-to-back games shooting just 1-of-8 against Pittsburgh and Florida State. He’d scored a total of just 28 points in Carolina’s last four games before facing Duke. During that span he was also just 4-for-20 from 3-point range.
Against Duke, McDonald broke out of his slump at the best possible time for Carolina. His first basket was a 3-pointer that jump started his season-high 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. As well as he played, he said he didn’t see it coming.
“This is a big-time game, you know that in the back of your mind,” McDonald Said. “This is a rivalry game, you have your former players watching, you have everybody in America watching. But at the same time you have to put in your head this is another game because you don’t want to get too tense. My thing was to relax, be confident in myself.”
McDonald finished the game with what he agreed was his best performance in a Tar Heels uniform and possibly gave him a new blueprint moving forward.
“A lot of people know me as a shooter, a 3-point shooter, but that’s not the thing,” McDonald said. “… I was able to score off of mid-range and drive to the basket. Those are some other things that not a lot of people are able to see so I was able to use that to my advantage.”
The question turned to if McDonald would stick with wearing the shoes now?
“You already know,” McDonald said. “I’m keeping these babies on until they blow out on me.”