No. 1 seed UNC beats Florida Gulf Coast 83-67 in NCAA opener

North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks the ball by Florida Gulf Coast forward Marc Eddy Norelia (25) during the second half of a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 18 points and No. 1 seed North Carolina needed an overwhelming second-half start to put away 16th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast 83-67 in Thursday's first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Isaiah Hicks added 12 points off the bench for the Tar Heels (29-6), who led by just a point after a frustration-filled opening 20 minutes in which the Eagles stayed right with the East Region's top seed. But UNC dominated the opening 10 minutes of the second half, running off a 20-3 burst by controlling the boards and locking down defensively to build a 20-point lead.

That helped the Tar Heels avoid the unwanted history of being the first 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed in tournament history.

Florida Gulf Coast (21-14) already owned a bit of underdog history with its ''Dunk City'' bunch the first 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, in 2013.