The second half of Wednesday’s game between North Carolina and N.C. Central started a lot like the first half ended.
An NCCU airball. An Ed Davis block. Two Eagles turnovers.
When the Tar Heels finally conceded a bucket almost three minutes into the second half, the game was a long time in the books.
They had already held NCCU scoreless for a 21-0 run that lasted eight minutes in the middle of the first half. This 6:54 period that spanned halftime made it an insurmountable 39-3 UNC run.
When all was said and done, the Tar Heels (2-0) cruised to an easy 89-42 win against the Eagles, who were making their season debut.
Marcus Ginyard led all scorers with a career-high 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Deon Thompson and Tyler Zeller added 13 and 12, respectively, and 12 Tar Heels found the scorers’ column.
Sure, the outcome was partially a result of a much bigger and more talented North Carolina squad. But it was also due to UNC’s effort on the defensive end.
The evidence was clear all night. Tipped passes, blocked shots, shot clock violations and inbound plays that never got in bounds.
“I think talking on defense a little more tonight got us in better position to get some more steals and some more blocks tonight,” Ginyard said.
“And just getting out denying the passing lanes a little bit, we just had a little bit more energy out there defensively than we did on Monday night.”
The Tar Heels tallied 10 steals and swatted away nine Eagles shots.
UNC was able to transform this defensive effort into offensive output. They scored 19 points off of 21 Eagles turnovers, including 20 points on fast breaks.
North Carolina ran an efficient offense. Thanks to their ability to exploit mismatches inside and their 29 assists, the Tar Heels shot 59.3 percent for the game.
On the other side, the Eagles shot just 25.5 percent.
UNC’s oversized bigs dominated the paint. In addition to their nine blocks, the Tar Heels claimed a 46-24 rebounding advantage.
“A couple times we were almost playing volleyball back and forth across the goal,” coach Roy Williams said.
UNC also dropped in 46 points in the paint, 30 more than NCCU. North Carolina’s inside-out offense and crisp passing were effective in defeating a zone defense by the much smaller Eagles.
“There’s no question that that’s a huge focus of this team is working inside-out and really pounding the ball inside,” Ginyard said. “We had an advantage inside, and we did a pretty good job of trying to take advantage of it.”
UNC even had a little time to have some fun in the late stages — although Williams repeatedly chided his young team to stop looking at the scoreboard and simply play.
A couple minutes after an authoritative John Henson block (and the ensuing flex and scream toward the Smith Center crowd), he was about to inbound the ball when Thompson snuck up and jokingly squeezed his bicep.
“We were just laughing at him because he’s so skinny and when he flexed, you don’t really see it,” Thompson said. “No, I was happy for him. I like to see him flexing and getting excited.”
North Carolina Central 42
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