Carolina starts slow but gasses it to win

ASHEVILLE – North Carolina missed its first eight shots and trailed 13-0 early but the Tar Heels got in rhythm to rush past UNLV and went on to win going away, 78-51 in the relocated Maui Classic. (11/30) UNC coach Roy Williams, who per normal didn’t call a timeout early, benched the starting five after the slow start. “I didn’t mind the score,” Williams said of the early deficit. “I didn’t like the way we were playing.” Sitting the starters serves as motivation, he said, but he was impressed that the players kept playing and didn’t panic. Senior Andrew Platek […]

ASHEVILLE – North Carolina missed its first eight shots and trailed 13-0 early but the Tar Heels got in rhythm to rush past UNLV and went on to win going away, 78-51 in the relocated Maui Classic. (11/30)

UNC coach Roy Williams, who per normal didn’t call a timeout early, benched the starting five after the slow start. “I didn’t mind the score,” Williams said of the early deficit. “I didn’t like the way we were playing.”

Sitting the starters serves as motivation, he said, but he was impressed that the players kept playing and didn’t panic.

Senior Andrew Platek said that the players did panic for a second during the Runnin’ Rebels run. “But we knew if we stick to our principles, we’d be alright. Once we got going, we kept the foot on the gas,” he said.

A Platek three from the corner and a runner off the glass helped propel the Heels to a 19-6 run that allowed Carolina to catch up at 19-19.

UNC freshman R.J. Davis, who led the Heels with 16 points, drove the baseline to give Carolina the lead at 29-27 with 3:21 left in the first half. That basket started a 23-4 run – at the end of the first half and start of the second – which put the Heels up handily at 50-31.

UNLV, led by Bryce Hamilton’s 15 points, never threatened again and Carolina worked the lead up to as much as 33 points with five minutes left.

“I hope and think we learned a lot from tonight,” Coach Williams said. “You can’t spot people 13 and thihnk you’re going to come back and win.”

Armando Bacot was one of four Tar Heels in double figures as he scored 12 but he also was bothered by the slow start. “We struggled early to get back on defense and we were missing shots,” he said.

Platek, who scored 11 points, suggested that the Carolina big men wore down the smaller Rebels. “This year we can rotate really big guys in and out,” he said. “They just couldn’t get anything inside.”

Senior big man Garrison Brooks scored 14 points, pulled in seven rebounds and picked up three steals. This season when Brooks or Bacot come out, freshmen big guys Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler can step in.

Carolina, 2-0, will play Stanford or Alabama in the second round of the Maui Invitational at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

For a boxscore and more on the game, please click here.