In its last game of 2018, the No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team notched a comfortable 82-60 win over Davidson and head coach Bob McKillop, a longtime friend of head coach Roy Williams.
UNC (9-3) shot 44 percent from the field and assisted on 20 of 26 field goals. The team also limited the Wildcats (9-4) to 10-38 shooting from 3-point range and outrebounded them, 49-33.
At the first media timeout, the two teams were tied at 5-5 and had combined for six turnovers. UNC’s Garrison Brooks especially struggled early, with two fouls and three turnovers in four minutes.
The game sped up from there. Forward Luke Maye was especially active for North Carolina, with two points, six rebounds and two assists in the first eight minutes. But Davidson responded with a 9-0 run to take a 24-19 lead. During that stretch, UNC went scoreless, with six missed shots and three turnovers.
A quick 6-0 run — with five of those points from Brooks, off Coby White assists — put UNC back in front, 25-24, and forced a Davidson timeout. And a Nassir Little putback dunk, off a missed 3-pointer, pushed UNC’s lead to 29-24 by the under-four timeout.
The Tar Heels led 39-28 at halftime, thanks to at least five points from six different players — and 12 assists on 14 made field goals. UNC was also dominant down low, outrebounding the Wildcats 24-14 and outscoring them 20-8 in the paint.
Cameron Johnson and Brooks spurred a rapid 9-0 run early in the second half. That gave UNC its largest lead of the game at 50-32 — which only grew from there. An 8-0 Davidson run cut its deficit to 15, but UNC kept the Wildcats at a safe distance for the entire 20 minutes.
By the final media timeout, Davidson's shooting had plummeted to 17 of 61 (28 percent). Substitutes began to filter in for both teams, as UNC's lead stretched to as many as 26. The Tar Heels ended up with 43 second-half points in their win.
Who stood out?
Five UNC players scored in double figures, led by Johnson with 17 and Williams with 12. Maye notched a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, and White had seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
For Davidson, guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson had 15 points on 5-16 shooting.
When was it decided?
As soon as the second half started, UNC was playing with more comfort and pace. As Davidson went cold, the Tar Heels pushed the ball and took patient possessions. They piled onto their lead, going on an 18-3 run during a 6:40 stretch.
At the under-12 media timeout, North Carolina led by 24 points. That 59-34 advantage never left them.
Why does it matter?
UNC moved to 9-0 against Davidson since Roy Williams became head coach. It’s also the sixth consecutive year that the Tar Heels have defeated the Wildcats in a nonconference game.
After an 80-72 loss to Kentucky in Chicago, this win marked a small bounce back for North Carolina. Kentucky’s Reid Travis and P.J. Washington both wreaked havoc on UNC, but Davidson’s star big man — 6-foot-10 first-year Luka Brajkovic — struggled, scoring just eight points on 4-11 shooting.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will host the Harvard Crimson in the Smith Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The game will mark UNC’s final non-conference game of the 2018-19 season.
North Carolina last played Harvard in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In that game, the fourth-seeded Tar Heels just avoided an upset and beat the Crimson, 67-65, in Jacksonville, Fla.