The North Carolina men's basketball team leads the N.C. State Wolfpack, 56-23, at the half here in the Smith Center. Here are three things to note from the first half of play.
Despite the rescheduled tip-off to Sunday's game, North Carolina came ready to play.
UNC jumped out to a 16-4 lead at the first T.V. timeout. Dennis Smith, N.C. State's star first-year point guard, struggled out of the game and turned the ball over a few times, along with picking up a few bad fouls.
Mark Gottfried was forced to call two early timeouts just to get his team back into the game. All his efforts were to no avail — the Tar Heels jumped out to a 43-16 lead with five minutes left in the first half, dominating the opening stages of the rivalry game.
Home crowd brings energy
North Carolina and N.C. State were scheduled to play Saturday evening at 8 p.m. However, that time was moved to Sunday at 1 p.m. due to the snowstorm that hit the Triangle on Friday night.
North Carolina students, who start classes again on Wednesday, set the tone for the great atmosphere in the Smith Center on Sunday afternoon. The crowd went crazy after each North Carolina basket and N.C. State turnover. Theo Pinson's return to the court after missing so many games with an injury just about blew the roof off the Smith Center, and prompted chants of "Theo" in the student section.
North Carolina fed off the energy and translated it into an early 23-4 lead.
Celebrities in building
Right before tip-off, former North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough walked up to his seats on the baseline, right next to the Tar Heel bench. Hansbrough was a fan favorite when he played from 2006-09. His appearance Sunday afternoon elicited massive cheers from the UNC student section.
Rapper J Cole was also made an appearance Sunday, sitting courtside right next to the broadcast table. He was occupying a spot similar to the one that rapper Drake holds down when he attends Raptors games.
Rasheed Wallace also made his way to his courtside seats with about eight minutes left in the first half.
The appearance of those celebrities only added to the incredible atmosphere of the game.
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