As season openers go No. 1 North Carolina's 86-71 victory against Penn got a little awkward.
First of all the man in the middle for the Tar Heels was a forward from the Midwest named Tyler.
But instead of the No. 50 that has become a Smith Center staple for the last three years it was the No. 44 of freshman Tyler Zeller who filled in for the injured Tyler Hansbrough.
Zeller certainly seemed to be channelling aspects of his elder as he led UNC with 18 points.
Also making things a little unusual was the fact that Penn overmatched on paper" turned out to be a scrappy bunch of dead-eye shooters.
The Quakers even managed to close to within 10 points with just five minutes remaining in the game following four straight blown possessions by UNC.
""We had some mental lapses defensively" and they started to make a comeback" Danny Green said. Penn is a good team. They came back like any good team would.""
While upset dreams started to form for the unranked Quakers" North Carolina mustered enough fire to put Penn down and gain some separation quickly extending its lead back to 15 and holding it there for the rest of the game.
UNC struggled shooting early and no one had more trouble finding the hoop than shooting guard Wayne Ellington.
Usually the team's best marksman from deep Ellington put plenty of dents in the rim with a 5-for-15 shooting performance including 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. He even struggled from the foul line" going just 1-for-3.
""Ray Charles could see that's not very good"" coach Roy Williams said of Ellington's shooting statistics.
But Ellington managed to contribute in other ways. He chased down five rebounds and had five assists, a steal and even a block.
You just have to do something else to help out" Ellington said. Distribute the ball get some rebounds" play defense. Just try to do other things.""
Green"" in the starting lineup while the injured Marcus Ginyard and Hansbrough man the ""suit crew"" flashed some of the skills NBA scouts looked at this summer after he declared for the draft.
Three times, Green — usually a forward — acted the point guard, running the UNC break. And three times, Green bounced a nifty pass through defenders to provide a teammate with an easy bucket.
As the Tar Heels started revving up their fast break with pressure defense — at one point Green and Ty Lawson trapped so quickly that Penn point guard Zack Rosen didn't even see it coming — Penn was forced to foul to keep the lightning-quick Tar Heels from running past.
The result was that three Penn players fouled out, and the Quakers racked up 30 fouls on the game.
And while UNC never could quite stifle Penn's shooting touch — the Quakers shot a respectable 40 percent for the game — the Tar Heels did manage to force 16 turnovers.
Early in the night, freshman Justin Watts took up Green's pregame dance duties — and flashed some moves that Green never had.
I know he can move a little bit" Green said. I know he has a hurt knee right now" but he might be the replacement.""
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.