CHAPEL HILL, N.C. —
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.