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Off the cuff: At first glance one wouldn't think this wasn't an effort worthy of a No. 1 ranked basketball team. But Asheville isn't bad and the Bulldog fans were certainly into it as they opened their new arena. Combined with the long journey from San Diego Friday night, it wasn't bad.

The Tar Heels did what they wanted to do. They wanted to control the boards, use their height to get easy shots inside and to draw fouls, and limit Asheville's outside shooting.

While the Heels missed some of those inside shots and while they missed 10 free throws and while the Bulldogs hit eight threes, they also got 64 points from their front line, went to the line 35 times and limited Asheville to 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Marshall set the tone with 15 assists and only one turnover. Like the first game, Zeller missed some easy shots down low but the Heels kept getting it to him and he usually scored or was fouled.

As Coach Williams said, it wasn't a smooth effort. "We're just bigger," he said. Well, the Heels are more talented too but there will be tougher games, including ones against Wisconsin and Kentucky in a couple of weeks.

Tar Heels 91, UNC-Asheville 75
UNC opens Asheville area with victory

No. 1 North Carolina helped UNC-Asheville open its new arena but apparently didn’t impress the Asheville fans, some of whom chanted “overrated” as the game wound down for a 91-75 Tar Heels victory.

UNC coach Roy Williams, a native of Asheville, scheduled the rare in-state game against a non-ACC opponent as a favor and has even contributed money to the basketball offices.

“I didn’t think I’d be booed as much as I was in Asheville, North Carolina,” Williams said with a laugh. “But that’s ok. All’s fair in love and war and basketball I guess.”

The Bulldogs held tough through most of the first half as they trailed by just a bucket at 40-38 with 1:20 to play in the half.

A four-point play created some distance when Tyler Zeller scored inside off the backboard and was fouled. He missed the free throw but P.J. Hairston tipped it in to give Carolina a 44-38 lead.

Kendall Marshall passed to Zeller for a basket at the buzzer to give the Heels a 48-39 lead at the half.

It never got closer as UNC opened the second half with a 15-4 run to go up by 20 at 63-43. The run was highlighted by a Marshall to Zeller pass and foul for a three-point play and a steal and dunk by Dexter Strickland.

The lead hovered around 15 to 20 the rest of the way except when Asheville’s J.P. Primm sank back-to-back three pointers with five minutes left to make it 82-69.

Carolina hit free throws for the final 16-point margin. Free throws were a big part of the victory as the Heels shot 35 and made 25 of them. Marshall, who finished with 15 assists, set up many of those free throws by getting the ball down low to 7-footer Zeller, who hit 11 of 13 free throws on his way to 27 points.

Williams said the Heels came into the game wanting to take advantage of their height and getting out to disrupt Asheville’s outside shooters. Check on both accounts as Asheville shot less than 40 percent and only 28 percent from beyond the three-point line. The Heels outrebounded the Bulldogs 41-27

John Henson and Harrison Barnes were the other Heels to score in double figures with 20 and 17 points respectively.

Carolina, 2-0, comes home next Sunday at 2 p.m. against Mississippi Valley State for their first home game of the season.


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