"Yeah, it was a little weaker than I wanted it to be, and I wasn't as strong with the grip as I wanted," Henson said. "But hey, we got the win and that's all you can ask for."
Marshall's injury overshadowed Henson's return and the reunion of McDermott and Barnes, who teamed together to lead Ames High School in Iowa to consecutive state championships and unbeaten seasons. McDermott came in averaging about 23 points and eight rebounds, while Barnes was leading the Tar Heels in scoring at about 17 per game.
That matchup never materialized, with Henson and freshman James Michael McAdoo getting most of the defensive work against McDermott. McDermott finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Barnes had 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting, including back-to-back 3-pointers to turn away Creighton's final push after the Bluejays had closed within 12 with about 5½ minutes left.
"Right before the game, we just shared a moment, but once the game started, we were both competitive guys and it didn't feel weird at all," McDermott said. "I didn't realize I was playing against my former teammate the whole time until the end and he's a really good player."
Creighton came in leading the country with a 50.7 percent shooting average, but it couldn't figure out a way to put the on-the-attack Tar Heels on the defensive. Creighton shot 41 percent.
North Carolina hit 14 of its first 19 shots and built a 39-24 lead on Barnes' 3-pointer with 5½ minutes left. UNC led by eight at half, but Creighton never got closer after the break. The Tar Heels shot 51 percent for the game and improved to 31-1 in NCAA games played in their home state.
"We came here with every intention of winning this game," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. "You don't get to this point if you don't feel that way, regardless of who you're playing."