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Off the cuff: Anytime you get up by 29 points, you shouldn't end up winning by only 15. If the game had ended at 75-46, Tar Heels fans may have been happier. But it's still early in the season and Carolina will learn from it.

Plus, exam week does take something out of you. Eleven players had tests the day before the game.

Tyler Zeller's effort can't just be attributed to playing a smaller team because Appalachian has a couple of guys over 6-foot-10. He just had a good night. Even he laughed at a lucky shot that he put up that bounced around and went in.

It was good to see Zeller play well after being frustrated most games by missing easy shots and getting the ball stripped away.

It was obvious that the network didn't send their best team to cover the game, which was probably considered a lackluster matchup. Cameras even missed the opening tip by showing a graphic of the starting five. Cameras missed a long crosscourt pass from Marshall to Zeller because they inexplicably switched cameras to a close-up of Marshall.

After the outcome was not in doubt, the announcers seemingly just wanted to yak, yak, yak instead of calling the action on the court. Former Duke star Jay Williams said that Henson's presence had "the ability to change the complexity of the shot." I think he meant complexion. Later he said that he thought the ACC would come down to UNC and Duke. Brilliant, out-on-a-limb commentary.

Even the halftime crew was the second (or third) team. Dino Gaudio, who coached at Wake, said that in the second half South Carolina needed to double team Tyler Zeller. South Carolina? Maybe he's watching too many monitors.

After this nine-game home stretch, the Tar Heels will surely get back to the top-notch announcers, cameramen and analysts.

Tar Heels 97, Appalachian St. 78
Zeller leads Heels over Capels ASU

UNC's Tyler Zeller had his way inside as the 7-footer scored a season-high 31 points en route to a 97-82 win over Appalachian State. (12/17) Click here for a photo gallery.

The Mountaineers, coached by former Carolina player Jason Capel, trailed by only four with four minutes left in the first half. But the Heels went on a 14-2 run and led 48-32 at the break. Zeller, who was already in double figures after just seven minutes, highlighted the run with a an old-fashioned three-point play as he went hard to the hoop and drew a foul. He scored at the buzzer to give Carolina its biggest lead of the half at 16.

The Tar Heels scored on 13 of their first 15 possessions of the second half to open the margin up to 29 points at 75-46. A Kendall Marshall alley-oop pass to Harrison Barnes who dunked it, along with a Zeller steal and fast break dunk highlighted the first eight minutes of the half as Carolina took control.

But Appalachian State went on a 16-4 run to make the score respectable, even getting it down to a 12-point deficit with less than two minutes to play.

The Tar Heels went almost seven minutes without a field goal during the stretch. UNC coach Roy Williams said the Heels went "brain dead" for a while mostly by taking bad shots. He gave credit to Appalachian State but also said the effects of exam week, and the fact that the Heels hadn't played in a week, were obvious.

For his part, ASU coach Capel said he was proud of his team. "We competed, we didn't just play hard," he said. "We got down but we stayed together. We fought tooth and nail and give it our best shot."

But the inside play of Zeller and John Henson, who had 17 points, sealed ASU's fate. Zeller hit 11 of 15 field goals and nine of 10 free throws to go along with 10 rebounds.

"My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball down where I can score," said Zeller, who added that the Heels have to get better on defense.

Two other Tar Heels, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston, scored in double figures with 10. All of Hairston's points came at the free throw line. Marshall had 13 assists but drew the ire of Coach Williams with a behind-the-back pass that resulted in a turnover.

The Tar Heels, 9-2 and ranked sixth in the country, continue the home stand Monday night against Nicholls State.


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