|North Carolina's forward John Henson (31) battles for a rebound over Elon's guard Sebastian Koch (24)during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)|
No. 5 North Carolina beats Elon 100-62
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The shots weren't falling for Elon. Making matters worse, fifth-ranked North Carolina kept grabbing the rebounds and racing upcourt for lead-expanding baskets.
The Phoenix's drought lasted more than 8 minutes Thursday night. By the time it was over, the Tar Heels had run off 23 straight points to blow the game open on the way to a 100-62 victory.
During that run, Elon missed 14 straight shots as the Tar Heels surged further and further ahead.
"It became a little frustrating after a little bit," said Lucas Troutman, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. "We could start to see it. We were starting to get worried and struggle a little bit. ... We got a little bit of our confidence back (after halftime). Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get back within range."
Elon missed 31 of 39 shots in the opening half (21 percent), including 13 of 15 3-point tries that might have helped it hang around a bit longer. Afterward, coach Matt Matheny said he had hoped his team "would have answered the bell a little bit better."
For North Carolina, Tyler Zeller had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the team's first game after an eight-day layoff for Christmas.
Harrison Barnes added 18 points for the Tar Heels (12-2), who led 53-19 by halftime then pushed the margin to as many as 50 points after the break.
North Carolina won its 25th straight game in the Smith Center to tie the record for its longest winning streak in the nearly 26-year-old campus arena. That home winning streak is tied for third-longest in program history.
Sebastian Koch scored 17 points for the Phoenix (7-5), who lost their third straight game and remained winless against ranked opponents since entering Division I competition a dozen years ago. Elon shot just 33 percent, including 7 for 28 from 3-point range.
North Carolina hadn't played since an easy win against Texas, its last significant test before opening Atlantic Coast Conference play against Boston College next week. That matchup was one of the few in the current nine-game homestand in which the Tar Heels seemed focused from tipoff to buzzer after frequently looking disinterested against overmatched opponents.
The Tar Heels had some of those moments in this one, too, though it was hard to blame them for losing some focus after their huge run took all the drama out of this one.
Leading 18-14, the Tar Heels ran off 23 straight points -- their biggest run since scoring 25 in a row against North Carolina State here almost four years ago. John Henson had two of his six first-half dunks in that run, while Kendall Marshall knocked down two 3-pointers during the spurt that gave North Carolina a 41-14 lead with 3:26 left in the half.
The rest of the game allowed the Tar Heels to pump up their stats and throw down a few dunks to thrill the crowd. Zeller had a career high with nine offensive boards and matched his career best for total boards. Barnes had battled a stomach bug in recent days, but had 10 points in the first half and finished with a career-high five assists. Henson added 16 points and 11 rebounds -- nearly all coming before halftime -- as the Tar Heels shot 47 percent and finished with a 64-35 rebounding advantage.
North Carolina finished with its third 100-point performance of the season.
Officials had to stop the game with 3:01 left when a Tar Heels cheerleader fell to the court while being held in the air by her partner during a timeout. She was helped to her feet and off the court with an apparent left-leg injury.