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North Carolina forces 22 turnovers en route to 108-58 win over Tennessee Tech

Roy Williams: ‘We did a much better job of playing defense’

Williams addresses the media following win over Tennessee Tech
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Williams addresses the media following win over Tennessee Tech

When North Carolina had finally reached 99 points late in its game against Tennessee Tech, its fans began to chant.

“We want biscuits! We want biscuits!” they yelled.

If UNC had scored 100 points in a game, fans would all get a free biscuit from Bojangles. A few seconds later, UNC sophomore forward Brandon Huffman dunked and the crowd cheered.

UNC would beat Tennessee Tech 108-58 Friday night at the Dean Smith Center.

But the noise after Huffman’s dunk was the loudest the crowd had cheered all game, because quite frankly, the game was over early.

Coming into its game against No. 7 UNC (4-0), Tennessee Tech (0-4) had lost all three of its games by double digits. Friday night was no different. The Tar Heels handled the Golden Eagles with ease.

It was the Tar Heels’ fourth consecutive win to start the season. Six UNC players scored in double figures.

Senior forward Luke Maye had a game-high 15 points and 8 rebounds. He was 6-for-9 from the floor. Graduate wing Cam Johnson, who leads the Tar Heels in scoring (18.3 ppg) this season, had 10 points.

Junior point guard Seventh Woods, who came off the bench, had 7 points, a career-high 8 assists and 0 turnovers. Woods’ previous career-high was a six-assist game he had on Nov. 15, 2016 against Long Beach State.

UNC senior guard Kenny Williams, who had 10 points, sprained his ankle late in the second half and did not return. UNC coach Roy Williams said after the game Kenny Williams stepped on another player’s foot and was in pain.

“He was in pain, but he’s fine right now,” coach Williams said.

It took a little more than eight minutes on Friday before UNC took its first double-digit lead of the game, 24-14. Tennessee Tech answered with a a layup. But 10 seconds later, UNC made it a double-digit game again, and kept it that way.

By halftime, the Tar Heels led the Golden Eagles 50-26.

Coach Williams said he reminded his team how they had played in the second half of Monday’s game against Stanford.

They led that game at halftime 52-26, then watched the lead shrink to as low as 15 points because of their sloppy play.

“We talked about it at halftime that if we played the second half like we did Monday night, there was a great possibility the rims wouldn’t be on there (in practice),” coach Williams said, “and Coach Robinson said you guys do not want to go through that.”

The players seemed to get the message.

They continued their onslaught. The Tar Heels started second half on a 17-4 run, extending its lead to 37 points with 15:23 remaining.

“It was a big improvement from Monday,” Maye said with a big smile.

UNC Tar Heels forward Luke Maye talks about UNC's 108-58 win over Tennessee Tech and where the team is at this point in the season. Maye finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds on Friday.

The Tar Heels are making it look easy. After beating Wofford by 11, Elon by 49, Stanford by 18 and Tennessee Tech by 50, UNC has won its first four games by an average of 32 points.

The Tar Heels started Friday night’s game on a 13-4 run in the game’s first five minutes. The Golden Eagles turned it over four times in that span, and the Tar Heels made them pay. Tennessee Tech played a 2-3 zone for most of the game, but it did not work. The Tar Heels forced 22 turnovers and scored 22 points off those turnovers.

The Tar Heels had nearly as many bench points (50) as Tennessee Tech did points (58).

The Tar Heels’ next game is Monday at home against St. Francis (Pa.) before its heads to west for the Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving. There it will play Texas and No. 11 Michigan State or No. 20 UCLA.

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Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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