No. 6 North Carolina beats Chattanooga 97-57 in home opener
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Kenny Williams III spent last season trying to keep his confidence up while buried on the bench for a deep, veteran North Carolina team.
The first two games of his sophomore season are undoing some of that frustration.
Williams had 11 points for the sixth-ranked Tar Heels in a 97-57 victory over Chattanooga on Sunday in the home opener.
''I think if you play with effort, then things will start going your way,'' Williams said. ''Shots will start going in. You start to get more steals and you start to get more fast-break layups. … I think effort brings a lot of positivity to the game.''
Williams also finished with six rebounds, five assists and three steals in 20 minutes. And that came after he had five rebounds and four assists in the opener against Tulane on Friday for the Tar Heels (2-0), inheriting a larger role with junior swingman Theo Pinson out with a broken right foot.
His play Sunday included a couple of dive-on-the-floor, active-hands moments that his Hall of Fame coach loves.
''That's a Danny Green kind of stat sheet right there,'' Roy Williams said, ''where you're involved in a lot of good things.''
Joel Berry II scored 18 points to lead the Tar Heels, who shot 56 percent through the first 24 minutes in building a lopsided lead. They pushed ahead for good with a 21-5 run late in the first half for a 44-33 lead at the break, then scored nine straight out of the break to blow it open.
Greg Pryor scored 17 points for the Mocs (1-1), who won Friday at Tennessee. But after a quick start, the preseason Southern Conference favorite just couldn't keep up with the Tar Heels.
Chattanooga made 5 of 9 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes, but went 2-for-18 from behind the arc from there and shot 35 percent for the game.
''We got off to a great start which I thought was big,'' Chattanooga coach Matt McCall said. ''Unfortunately, they got settled in and really started turning up the heat, which made it difficult for us.''
Chattanooga: It was a little too much to ask for Chattanooga to win both the Tennessee and UNC games to start the season, but earning the split against power-conference teams is a good start for a team that won 29 games last season and played in the NCAA Tournament.
''I think for us it is important for us to not let this take away from our win over Tennessee,'' McCall said.
UNC: The Tar Heels had a lot of a balance in this one, and that's a promising sign for a team that must replace four-year starter Marcus Paige and Associated Press All-American Brice Johnson from a national runner-up.
''It was a team, it really was,'' Roy Williams said of last year's NCAA finalist. ''We've emphasized from Day One that this group's got to be a team now as well.''
UNC's first two games did nothing to undermine its No. 6 ranking in the AP Top 25 to start the season. It's a group with veteran scorers back in Berry and Justin Jackson as well as experience up front with Kennedy Meeks (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Isaiah Hicks (13 points), though it's still sorting out playing rotations with Pinson out.
It was the first regular-season home game for UNC's latest freshman class.
Big man Tony Bradley stood out with 12 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes.
It didn't go completely smoothly, though.
Wing Brandon Robinson had five points and three rebounds, though he blew a breakaway layup. And fellow guard Seventh Woods scored six points in 12 minutes but bricked a second-half dunk.
Chattanooga: The Mocs will try to improve to 7-0 against Hiwassee in their home opener Wednesday.
UNC: The Tar Heels host Long Beach State on Tuesday night before heading west for a game at Hawaii followed by the Maui Invitational during Thanksgiving week.
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