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Off the cuff: Everybody was looking to Harrison Barnes, who did score 14 points, but it was sophomore John Henson who stole the show. Henson won't have smaller guys to pick on when the ACC season starts but he did have career highs with seven blocks and 17 rebounds.

Henson has put on 25 pounds and says he tries to eat five or six times a day in order to keep on weight. Don't hate him 'cause he's thin. He's worked his weight up to 210 and says he's able to hold his ground better and not get knocked off his spot as easily as he did last year.

The biggest shot of the game, however, was made by Leslie McDonald he drilled one from the baseline after the Bisons had cut the lead to just three. The basket started a 10-2 run that opened the game up with less than five minutes to go.

Even though Carolina defeated a veteran and good mid-major team, and the Heels got to make a fresh start after a disappointing season last year, Coach Roy Williams seemed to be a little testy after the game. He ranted about the locks not working correctly on the lockerroom doors and then, when a sportswriter's cell phone rang, he said, he better answer it because "it might be your girlfriend ... or your wife." He clarified to say that he saw he was wearing a wedding ring so he changed it from girlfriend to wife but it certainly sounded sarcastic at the time.

Tar Heels 80, Lipscomb 66
Heels pull away from feisty Lipscomb

Harrison Barnes scored the first points of the game on a smooth turnaround, his first points as a Tar Heel, and North Carolina fans might have felt it was going to be an easy one against mid-major Lipscomb. It wasn’t. (11/12)

Still, the Tar Heels pulled away from a pressuring, feisty Bison team at the end to win 80-66 in the first game of the season.

With just over eight minutes to play, Carolina was up only 59-56. But a Leslie McDonald 12-footer down the left baseline started a 10-2 run for the Heels. Tyler Zeller, who scored a team-high 15 points, tallied six points during that stretch that opened it up to double figures at 69-58.

It never got closer than nine again and the Heels worked it up to the largest lead of the game at 80-64 in the last minute after freshman Kendall Marshall scored on a feed from fellow freshman Reggie Bullock and Zeller scored on a rebound follow.

The Tar Heels could have put it away earlier but struggled from the free throw line shooting just 16 of 29 including a mere six of 14 in the second half. UNC coach Roy Williams said the Heels need to finish games out better by making free throws.

He was happy with sophomore forward John Henson who bothered the shorter Bisons inside by altering shots, blocking seven shots and pulling in a career-high 17 rebounds. He also added 10 points.

Bullock had 12 points in only 15 minutes of play while Marshall scored 10.

Williams also noted that Barnes, who had 14 points on a six for 12 night, was more comfortable than he had been in exhibition play

While he scored the first points of the game, Barnes also scored the last bucket of the first half at the buzzer to give UNC a 43-35 halftime lead.

At the time it was the largest lead for Carolina, which had trouble pulling away from the three-point shooting Bisons, who were seven of 20 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Heels were up 25-18 and seemed to be poised to open it up but Lipscomb outscored the home team 11-2 to go up 29-27.

Going into the last TV timeout of the first half, the teams were tied at 32-all. The Heels went on an 11-3 run, which included a dunk follow by Henson and an old-fashioned three-point play by Marshall, to end the half up 43-35.

Williams said the Tar Heels did much better on defense in the second half, especially by not giving the Bisons good looks from beyond the arc – they were only two of nine after the break.

The Tar Heels travel to the Puerto Rico Tip-off in San Juan to play Hofstra on Thursday.

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