North Carolina

UNC pulls away in 2nd half to beat Fairfield 92-65

Roy Williams' post game comments following the 92-65 win over Fairfield

North Carolina coach Roy Williams’ post game comments following the Tar Heels’ 92-65 victory over Fairfield.
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North Carolina coach Roy Williams’ post game comments following the Tar Heels’ 92-65 victory over Fairfield.

During its season-opening victory Friday against Temple, North Carolina provided an indication of how good it can be – even without senior point guard Marcus Paige – when everything is going right – when shots are falling and when the defense is in the right position.

Then there was Sunday’s 92-65 victory against Fairfield. The lesson then: it won’t always be as easy as the Tar Heels made it look against Temple, and sometimes it could be ugly – even against the most overmatched of competition.

Fairfield (0-2) won seven games in each of its past two seasons. It lost its first game this season against Yale while being outrebounded by 23. And yet the top-ranked Tar Heels (2-0) led by just eight points with less than 14 minutes to play Sunday before pulling away during the final 10 minutes.

Turning point

UNC led 54-46 with less than 14 minutes to play, and restless murmurs circulated through the Smith Center. During the next five minutes the Tar Heels went on a 15-7 run to build a 16-point lead. Nate Britt made a pair of 3-pointers during the run. A layup by Justin Jackson – after a Kennedy Meeks steal – prompted a Fairfield timeout as UNC’s lead climbed to 16 with about 8 1/2 minutes to play.

Three who mattered

Nate Britt: Off to a strong start to his junior season, Britt tied his career high with 17 points. He also had five assists.

Joel Berry: Making his second start at point guard in place of an injured Paige, Berry finished with 15 points and four assists.

Brice Johnson: Johnson started slowly for the second consecutive game but finished with a double-double – 16 points and 11 rebounds – and played through foul trouble in the second half.

Three key numbers

22 Points off of turnovers for the Tar Heels, who outscored Fairfield 22-0 in that category.

56.3 UNC’s free-throw percentage, going 18-for-32 from the line. That’s cause for concern.

40 Points in the paint for UNC, which outscored Fairfield 40-16 there.

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