CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A quick look at No. 8 North Carolina’s 74-55 victory over NC State at the Smith Center on Thursday:
What it means: Continued bragging rights for UNC. A bounce-back test for NC State – and fast. The Tar Heels won their 11th straight in the rivalry series, and in easier fashion than expected considering the Wolfpack, under new coach Mark Gottfried, was off to their best start in six years. It couldn’t handle the Tar Heels’ size, and intensity or defense. State has only until Saturday to regroup and prepare for its next test, against Virginia.
How it happened: UNC put it into another defensive gear early, what with first-time starter Reggie Bullock holding Wolfpack leading scorer Scott Wood to 0-for-3 at halftime, 7-footer Tyler Zeller almost out-rebounding State all by himself in the first 20 minutes and the team recording six first-half blocks. UNC led 37-23 at the break, and the only reason it wasn’t by more was State point guard Lorenzo Brown’s 85-footer at the buzzer.
Wood finally made a field goal to open the first half, but UNC just poured it on. Three-pointers by Kendall Marshall and his new backup, Stilman White, helped the Tar Heels to a 61-32 lead with 11:30 left. And when White bricked another 3-point attempt a couple of minutes later and coach Roy Williams only smiled in response – that pretty much said it all.
Zeller set a new career high in rebounds (17) to go along with 21 points. Harrison Barnes added 15 for the Tar Heels.
Wood ended up leading the Pack, who shot only 36.8 percent for the game, with 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.
Number to know: Zeller has now grabbed 116 rebounds in his past 10 games.
What’s next: UNC will play Georgia Tech on Sunday at the Smith Center. NC State will host Virginia on Saturday.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.