CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When East Tennessee State's Lester Wilson made a 3-point shot Saturday night with 4:20 left in the first half, there was a smattering of applause at the Smith Center.
Most of those applauding were wearing Carolina blue.
It was that sort of game.
East Tennessee State set a new Smith Center record for futility by scoring only 12 points in the first half during a 78-55 shellacking by No. 20 North Carolina.
ETSU, which threw two starters off the team last month for breaking team rules and was playing its second game without starting freshman point guard Petey McClain (ankle injury), out-scored the Tar Heels 43-36 in the second half, but shot only 33.9 percent for the game and committed 22 turnovers.
Turning point: UNC followed ETSU’s opening bucket with a 15-0 run, including seven points from Reggie Bullock, before Wilson scored to cut the Tar Heels' lead to 15-4. The Rams didn’t score again for almost another eight minutes -- going 2.5 minutes at one point without even attempting a shot -- before Wilson scored again, on a 3-pointer (earning those pockets of applause).
The Rams scored two more buckets before the break, but guard Rashawn Rembert's airball at the buzzer kept UNC ahead 42-12 at halftime.
The previous Smith Center record for fewest points in a half was held by NC State, which managed only 13 in the first half in 2008.
Key players: Reserve guard Leslie McDonald led UNC with 14 points, and freshman Brice Johnson added 12 off the bench. Rembert led ETSU with 18.
Key stat: The Tar Heels had 16 assists on 17 buckets in the first half, and finished with 30 assists on 31 field goals.
Etc: UNC freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who missed last weekend's win over UAB because of a left shoulder injury, returned to the starting lineup and finished with seven assists and three points. ... Freshman Joel James made his second start at center.
What’s next: The Tar Heels will play East Carolina at noon ET next Saturday. ETSU plays at Ole Miss on Friday.