No. 10 North Carolina (8-2) turned its first unranked opponent in nearly two weeks into nothing more than an exam study break Saturday night.
Presbyterian College (2-8) was outmatched from the start.
Deon Thompson and Ed Davis led a 16-1 run from the opening tipoff that put the Tar Heels firmly in control. Davis scored 20 and Thompson had 19 as North Carolina cruised into triple digits for the first time this season, winning 103-64.
"We made shots, we didn’t give them any second shots, and we got second shots, and that was the ballgame there in the first half,” coach Roy Williams said.
The Tar Heels shot 54 percent for the game and encountered little resistance in the paint as they cruised to a 56-21 lead at halftime.
But given that Presbyterian had only three players taller than 6-foot-6, the most impressive performance of the night might have come from point guard Larry Drew II.
In one of his best games of the season, Drew showed the kind of complete game that makes Tar Heel fans nostalgic for championship point guards of the past. On the way to nine assists and only one turnover, his passes included lobs into the paint, fast-break bombs and kick-outs to the three-point line off the dribble.
Offensively, he was just as efficient, scoring 12 points on just seven shots on everything from acrobatic layups in traffic to three-pointers.
“I’m excited with what I did tonight … I got them a lot of open looks and I scored as well,” Drew said.“I was disappointed when I found out I only had nine (assists), of course I wanted the double-double, but I mean, we come out with the win, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Drew’s steady hand at the point kept the Tar Heels pounding the ball into the post, where John Henson and the Wear twins were just as effective as the starters.
Henson flashed some of the potential that made him the top small forward recruit of his class, finishing with 11 points – including a pair of three-pointers.
“I just want to take steps into the right direction,” said Henson, who also had nine rebounds. “I feel like I did that tonight, you know, just playing hard.”
David and Travis Wear had eight and six points, respectively, to round out the dominant performance in the paint.
Even with Presbyterian’s size disadvantage, the Tar Heels didn’t have much alternative than to try to score inside. Their top two shooting guards were in suits on the sideline.
Marcus Ginyard sat out as a precautionary measure after experiencing pain in his left foot – the same foot that caused him to miss most of last season.
And Dexter Strickland was a late scratch from the game with a sore left hamstring, which left Roy Williams with plenty of
minutes to offer to the bench.
That meant Justin Watts, Leslie McDonald and Marc Campbell all saw more playing time than usual.
There was some good, like when Watts went baseline and finished with a dunk, despite a foul.
And some bad, like when McDonald drove deep into the paint and got it blocked right back at him – twice.
But it was all in the name of spreading the minutes out – minutes that will be hard to come by when the Tar Heels face No.2 Texas in a week.
Chase Holmes scored 29 for the Blue Hose, which has lost by an average of 43 points to its three ranked opponents this season.
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