No. 4 North Carolina beats Evansville 97-48
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Denver Holmes knocked down outside shots and provided Evansville with some scoring punch against fourth-ranked North Carolina. The problem was that no one else followed his lead.
While Holmes scored 14 points in the 97-48 loss to the Tar Heels on Tuesday night, no other player reached double figures for the Purple Aces. The rest of the team struggled to knock down shots, particularly from 3-point range, that could have helped negate North Carolina's big size advantage.
"They're a long team and that gave us some problems," Holmes said. "We didn't run our offense and we didn't screen anybody. That was the biggest thing for why we weren't getting open shots."
Holmes knocked down four 3-pointers, but the rest of the Purple Aces shot just 2 for 19 from behind the arc and 21 percent as a team. Top scorer Colt Ryan came in averaging nearly 20 points per game, but he managed just nine on 1-for-11 shooting in this one.
Holmes scored Evansville's first two baskets on 3-pointers, then added a third midway through the first half. By that point, however, North Carolina already led 26-9.
"He's one of the hardest workers we've got," Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. "I think he's really got a passion to play and he played with a lot of heart out there."
For North Carolina, Harrison Barnes scored 17 points and Reggie Bullock added 15 points off the bench.
The Tar Heels (7-2) had an easy time bouncing back from their loss at top-ranked Kentucky. North Carolina ran off 12 straight points midway through the first half to blow the game open, then pushed a 30-point halftime lead to as many as 51 points in the second half.
North Carolina shot 60 percent in the first half before finishing the game at 49 percent. The Tar Heels more than doubled the Purple Aces (3-4) on the boards and held them to 26 percent shooting, including a 6-for-27 performance from 3-point range.
The game marked the beginning of a monthlong homestand for North Carolina, which will play nine straight home games before its next road game at Florida State on Jan. 14. It's a welcome break for a team that racked up more than 10,000 travel miles in the first month of the season.
The Tar Heels opened in California with Michigan State in the Carrier Classic, then flew across the country two weeks later for a pair of games in the Las Vegas Invitational. Throw in Saturday's 73-72 loss at Kentucky — which took over the No. 1 ranking after UNC's loss to UNLV out west — and North Carolina has had a tough start to the season.
UNC didn't have any such trouble with the Purple Aces. North Carolina had five players in double figures, with John Henson adding 13 points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Zeller finished with 12, falling a point shy of reaching 1,000 for his career.
North Carolina also had a 62-30 rebounding advantage, which included 21 offensive boards that led to 22 second-chance points.