When North Carolina took on Wofford on Tuesday, defense was at a premium. UNC led at halftime of that game 33-26.
But against Elon on Friday, that wasn’t so much the case.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the first half. The difference, though, was that UNC had more firepower and ultimately won 116-67.
“I don’t know if it was anything we did or it was just a tough night for them,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “But they couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the second half and we started running a little bit better.”
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UNC graduate forward Cam Johnson, who was on fire early, and freshman forward Nassir Little both led the Tar Heels with 21 points. Little also had five offensive rebounds. Freshman guard Coby White had 14 points. Senior forward Luke Maye had 8 points.
“I’m thinking if we’re playing a really good team, I’ve got to do my part and rebound better and get to the glass,” Little said. “I feel like getting yourself involved in the game by rebounding, just kind of opens everything up for you and I just had one of those games.”
UNC, which opened its season with two road games, are now 2-0, and will next face Stanford (1-0) in its home opener on Monday.
The lack of defense in the first half seemed to anger Coach Williams. After two uncontested layups by Elon cut UNC’s lead 61-45 with less than a minute left in the first half, Williams stepped onto the floor clenched his fist and yelled at his players. At halftime, Elon was shooting better than 57 percent from the floor.
UNC shot 55.6 percent from the floor, but it had been dominant on the offensive glass. In the first half, the Tar Heels rebounded 70 percent of their misses and had 19 second-chance points. They finished the first half with 63 points, the most points they had scored in a half since January 2016, when they scored 65 points in a half against Florida State.
In the second half, the Tar Heels began to lock down. They started to trap Elon’s players, and forced 12 second half turnovers. The Phoenix scored only 22 points in the second half. The Tar Heels finished the game shooting 52 percent from the floor.
“We got guys that can really play, and we like to push the tempo and I think that was big for us,” Johnson said. “The more we pushed the tempo, the more tired they got, and they kind of hit some rough patches in there and that’s where we thrive.”
UNC went deep into its bench on Friday. Fifteen Tar Heels’ players scored at least one point. The Tar Heels’ 116 points was the most points scored in the Roy Williams’ era.