No. 19 Tar Heels beat Seahawks, become third team with 2,100 wins
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)
UNC Wilmington coach Buzz Peterson liked the shots his players got for much of Tuesday's loss at No. 19 North Carolina. The Seahawks just couldn't put the ball in the basket to give themselves any chance at an upset.
The Seahawks shot 31 percent in the 84-51 loss, including a 9-for-36 performance in the first half. Things started badly and didn't get much better, with UNCW committing transition-fueling turnovers in the second half once their shooting warmed up slightly.
UNCW missed its first 13 shots and 18 of 19 to start the game.
''We haven't shot the ball all year well, but sometimes you start missing like that and you start pressing a little bit more and that goal gets tighter and tighter,'' Peterson said.
Peterson said he thought his team rushed a few shots in the second half when the Tar Heels upped their defensive pressure and used better traps to force turnovers. UNCW shot 40 percent after halftime, but by that point, the Tar Heels were steadily increasing their lead to turn the game into a romp.
''The first half I thought we did a pretty good job handling the traps and we got some decent shots,'' Peterson said. ''We missed so many easy looks at the first of the game.''
James Michael McAdoo had 23 points and 10 rebounds and UNC became the third program to reach 2,100 victories.
Marcus Paige scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half to help the Tar Heels (10-3) shake free from a slow start and blow open the game. North Carolina shot 63 percent in the second half to turn its final nonconference game into a rout.
The Tar Heels joined Kentucky and Kansas as the only programs with 2,100 victories, heading into Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Wake Forest.
Cedrick Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Seahawks (6-9). UNCW lost its fourth straight and fell to 1-24 against ranked opponents, heading into its Colonial Athletic Association opener against James Madison.
It marked the third time in the past five decades that UNC has hosted a game on New Year's Eve, though there were plenty of empty seats with the afternoon tipoff time and students still on Christmas break. Students standing on the risers behind one of the baskets wore party hats, while the Tar Heels wore their road blue uniforms at home for only the second time in program history — the other was in 1990 — to make it feel a bit more like a special event.
The Tar Heels were coming off a lackluster showing Friday in a victory over Northern Kentucky, a performance that irked coach Roy Williams so much that he said he wanted to make his team run sprints during halftime. His team looked flat early Tuesday and failed to take advantage of a miserable shooting start by the Seahawks.
UNC led just 31-23 at halftime, but looked more active while getting out in transition more often to push the lead to 47-27 on Paige's basket at the 13:28 mark. Then, after J.P. Tokoto threw down a transition dunk followed by a dunk from McAdoo off a turnover, Leslie McDonald hit a 3-pointer to push UNC's lead to 64-37 with 7:38 left.
The game marked a homecoming for Peterson, a player on Dean Smith's first NCAA championship team in 1982 and Michael Jordan's college roommate. He coached Appalachian State here twice in the late 1990s but hadn't returned to the visiting sideline since.
The Tar Heels played their third straight game without sophomore center Joel James, who sprained a ligament in his right knee early in the loss to Texas on Dec. 18.