With Tyler Hansbrough out of the lineup Saturday Tar Heel veteran Deon Thompson stepped up to score 17 points and grab seven rebounds" but it was a couple of rookies who stole the show in the paint.
The Tar Heel freshmen duo of Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller combined to score 28 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
""That was one of our emphases in practice this week" telling the big guys to post up to make the guards want to throw you the ball senior guard Bobby Frasor said.
And once we got comfortable with (Penn's) zone we saw our big guys post up easily and we got them the ball in there. And with a bunch of height advantage" we got some easy buckets.""
Coming off the bench and playing through a cold" Davis registered a double-double in his first career game. Not even Hansbrough did that.
Through a month of practices" Davis has learned what impresses coach Roy Williams — hustle.
That hustle and Davis' self-described ""aggressive"" style were on full display Saturday in his 10-point"" 14-rebound performance.
""That's what coach loves. You can miss a shot" and he won't get mad Davis said. But if you don't hustle" that's what makes him mad.""
Even with Davis' impressive first game" Zeller — who started in Hansbrough's place — wasn't about to be outshined.
While taking only eight shots the 7-foot rookie made eight of 10 free throws and scored 18 points including a thunderous fast-break dunk off a nice dish from senior Danny Green in the second half.
But Zeller's most important play came late in the game. With UNC up 10 points with just a few minutes left to play Zeller received a pass from Frasor in the post" quickly turned and threw down a two-handed slam that put an exclamation point on the win.
A quick glance at the box score gives a different picture of the game than the one seen with a coach's eye — the seemingly flawless debuts start to lose a little of their luster.
""I like to see Ed have 14 rebounds" and that is really good. It (also would be) good for him to not have four turnovers and zero assists Williams said.
Tyler Zeller to score 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting is really good. At the same time" I do not expect him to have zero defensive rebounds.""
Despite the few shortcomings" the first game for Davis and Zeller was a success.
And the game experience will only help once the Tar Heels have a completely healthy lineup.
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