Having already stopped Wofford (0-2) after the Terriers twice pulled the game within three points, the No. 1 Tar Heels needed something big.
So Nate Britt stole the ball, made a basket and repeated — extending the Tar Heels’ lead to 64-50. The two buckets fueled an 14-8 run for the Tar Heels (3-0), as UNC rolled to a 78-58 win over Wofford on Wednesday evening at the Smith Center.
Despite the UNC’s slow start, Coach Roy Williams said he was much more impressed with the team’s overall effort this game compared to Sunday’s against Fairfield.
UNC outscored Wofford 50-18 in the paint but shot just 1-for-9 from the 3-point line.
Throughout the game, UNC looked like the more dominant team — but Wofford continued to make tough shots, especially in the first half. And minutes before halftime, the Terriers were shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
But UNC gradually locked down the Terriers’ attack. Wofford ran the shot clock down on most of its possessions, forcing the Tar Heels to focus on playing defense.
And with strong performances from Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson, UNC’s renewed focus helped it overcome its shaky start.
“When (Britt) got those two steals, I think that’s when we really just pulled out the lead. Everyone bought into the defensive end, we started to talk more, we started to help one another, and after that we just pulled out the lead.” — Sophomore guard Joel Berry on Britt’s motivating plays.
Berry scored 16 points and recorded four steals — both career highs. The sophomore guard has topped his scoring total in each game this season, scoring 14 points in his first game and 15 in his second.
Three numbers that matter
16: Berry, Meeks and Johnson each scored 16 points, combining for 48 of UNC’s 78 points.
3: Johnson recorded his third straight double-double on Wednesday. The senior forward added 14 rebounds to his 16-point performance.
11: Led by Britt’s four, UNC recorded a season-high 11 steals.
The Tar Heels travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. on Saturday.