Rapid Reaction: UNC 100, Elon 62
December, 29, 2011
By Robbi Pickeral | ESPN.com
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A quick look at No. 5/6 North Carolina’s 100-62 victory over Elon at the Smith Center on Thursday night:
What it means: The Tar Heels have now won 25 straight at the Smith Center, tying the all-time record for consecutive victories at that arena, previously set from 1992-94. A win against Monmouth on Sunday would give these Tar Heels the record outright in the 26-year-old building.
How it happened: UNC was leading 18-14 with 11:16 left in the first half when it pulled away with a 23-0 run. Elon didn’t score again until there were three minutes left in the half, when Sebastian Koch made a layup, but the Phoenix missed 14 consecutive shots while the Tar Heels – who couldn’t seem to connect on anything outside the paint early – started hitting from the outside, getting a jumper from Harrison Barnes, two 3-pointers from Kendall Marshall and a 3 from P.J. Hairston.
The Tar Heels led 53-19 at halftime, and it was just a matter of how long it would be before the UNC walk-ons checked in after that. Before they finally did – with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left – senior forward Tyler Zeller recorded his fourth consecutive game with double-digit rebounds (13, to go along with 19 points), junior John Henson added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Barnes chipped in 18 points and a career-high 5 assists.
Number to know: The Tar Heels’ 23-0 first half run was their largest since a 25-0 breakaway against N.C. State at the Smith Center on Jan. 12, 2008.
Hubbub: Apparently, Barnes was suffering from a stomach bug entering the game. But he didn’t look like it. The sophomore forward started, had 10 points by halftime, and still looked perfectly well – thank you very much – on a drive-and-jam with about 13 minutes left to play. And on a gliding dunk with less than 10 minutes left to play. And pretty much the rest of the time he was out there.
What’s next: North Carolina will face Monmouth on Sunday at the Smith Center for its final non-conference tune-up before ACC play begins. Elon will play Georgia Southern on Jan. 5.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.