It would appear the Tar Heels are who we thought they were.
All the usual caveats apply, but Carolina broke open a relatively tight game with a picture-perfect end to the first half and cruised to a 91-75 win over a pesky Asheville team.
UNC's four superstars put up superstar numbers. Tyler Zeller scored 27 points to go with 8 rebounds and a whopping 11-13 from the foul line. John Henson scored 20 points to go with a dozen rebounds, and Harrison Barnes chipped in 17 on a very solid 6-10 from the floor. Oh, and Kendall Marshall handed out 15 assists, one off his career high, against one turnover. Let me say again, FIFTEEN ASSISTS AND ONE TURNOVER. Simply amazing.
After a sluggish start, Carolina finished shooting nearly 60% from the floor and over 70% from the line while outrebounding the Bulldogs 41-27. Still, the Heels had some issues early on the offensive glass and the 17 turnovers are not where you would want to be, especially since UNCA logged 10 of those as steals.
The biggest takeaway from this game is the 8-man rotation Roy Williams has seemed to settle into uncharacteristically early in the season. Essentially duplicating the rotation used on Friday against Michigan State, the starters all logged over 30 minutes while Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, and James Michael McAdoo chipped in around 10 each. Usually at this time of year, Roy is tinkering with the lineup and fans are screaming for him not to. Maybe it's just easier this year given everyone's roles, or maybe it was about surviving the opening weekend with the unique nature of the carrier game followed by the travel followed by the hype of opening Asheville's new arena.
In any case, it was a successful weekend. As C. Michael pointed out, Michigan State was UNC's strongest opener of the Roy Williams era, and while some may complain about the margin of victory against Asheville, it was a road win against a team that will probably win their league and make the tournament. Carolina will now have a week before their home opener next Sunday against Mississippi Valley State.