CHAPEL HILL — At one point toward the end of the first half at the Smith Center on Sunday, a spectator who'd apparently grown tired of North Carolina's suspect free throw shooting let his voice be heard.
"Hit some free throws," the man yelled, moments before Harrison Barnes went to the line with 5:33 to play before halftime. Barnes made the first but missed the second. And so it went during the top-ranked Tar Heels' 101-75 victory against Mississippi Valley State - an easy win, but one that didn't come without blemishes.
Like, for instance, the free throw shooting. And shooting overall, for that matter.
"For the third time (this season), obviously, you'd like to shoot the ball better," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "And you'd like to make some of the open shots you have from (3-point range) more than you did.
"And you'd like to make more free throws."
The Tar Heels (3-0), who shot 46 percent overall, converted 16 of their 31 attempts from the line. They made 8 of 19 during the first half, which is one of the reasons why Mississippi Valley State (0-3) hung around as long as it did.
The Delta Devils trailed by three with about eight minutes to play in the first half before UNC brought a 19-8 run into halftime. From there, the Tar Heels built a 30-point lead in the second half and broke the 100-point barrier on a layup from Jackson Simmons, a walk-on, with 1:03 to play.
That moment resulted in one of the largest cheers from a relatively sparse crowd, many of whom had been chanting, "We want biscuits," in reference to a local fast-food restaurant's promotion that goes into effect when UNC scores at least 100 points.
Simmons' layup, which came long after Carolina had put the game out of reach, represented the final points of a frenetic second half. UNC scored 60 points in the game's final 20 minutes, and did so thanks to the kind of quick pace that Williams appreciates.
"We got up and down a little bit more and I think we tried to attack better," said Williams, whose team finished with 15 turnovers. "We had eight (turnovers) in the second half at a much faster pace ... we know we're going to turn the ball over, we'd just like to be more effective and play at a faster pace and get something going."
Barnes and Henson finished with 18 points apiece to lead the Tar Heels, six of whom scored in double figures. Henson, who led UNC with 14 rebounds, finished with a double-double -- as did Tyler Zeller, who added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The best statistic of all, from where Williams sat, might have been this: Entering a busy stretch in which UNC will play four games in seven days, none of his players played more than 25 minutes.
"I think (against) Michigan State, the minutes (for starters) were like, 35, 35, 35," Barnes said. "You know, going through a stretch like this, you can't play those kinds of minutes and expect to be at your tip-top shape at the end."
Not that the Tar Heels were in top shape on Sunday. They won easily, as was the expectation, but did so with a belief that they can play far better.
North Carolina made just 5 of its 19 3-pointers. And struggled from the free-throw line throughout.
"I think when it matters we'll hit them," Henson said. "And we'll be fine."