Jackie Manuel blocked Connecticut's first shot. The Tar Heels casually broke the Huskies' press for a layup. Manuel and Kris Lang went inside-out for an open 3. Lang jammed.
Five minutes. UNC ahead 11-2. Five rebounds. Two blocks. Three assists. Three Husky turnovers.
Then the real Tar Heels arrived -- just a little late for the season's only trip above the Mason-Dixon Line. The Tar Heels that opposing teams have come to know, adore and punish returned.
One of the 10,027 fans exclaimed: "I guess the North always wins." Not North Carolina, not this year. UNC dropped its fifth consecutive game for the first time in 51 years while suffering its worst non-conference loss in 52 years, 86-54 to UConn.
"I thought things were looking up considering we did start off well," Lang said. "But we started getting careless with the ball, and they hit some tough 3s, and it just happened."
That it did -- again. The Tar Heels (5-10), still searching for their first win in 2002, are off to their worst 15-game start in program history and are five games below .500 for just the second time ever.
After UNC's first-round flurry blew over, UConn landed uppercut after uppercut. Ben Gordon drained a 3 from 10 feet behind the arc, and 6-foot-7 Caron Butler, who finished with 29 points, scored on four first-half stick-backs as the Huskies distanced themselves from the Tar Heels.
"That's my bread and butter," Butler said of his offensive rebounding.
Meanwhile, UNC went cold and couldn't find its way through the rim with a metal detector.