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UNC 85, Northern Iowa 42: Tar Heels cruise to win

A balanced effort allowed North Carolina to win handily against the Panthers.

NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the first half of this game, North Carolina hadn’t managed to open up any substantial lead. The Tar Heels led for most of it and hadn’t trailed since the score was 7-5, but Northern Iowa kept the game at their place, and kept it close.

After a three-pointer tied the game with 8:47 left in the first half, UNC went on a 14-7 to end the half, giving them some slight breathing room. Then the second half started.

In the second half, that lead quickly ballooned to 18, and only went up more and more from there. The Tar Heels outscored Northern Iowa 52-16 in the second half, and came away with a 85-42 win.

Kennedy Meeks led the way for North Carolina, putting up 18 points and eight rebounds. The 18 points was his highest offensive output since the Maui Invitational final against Wisconsin.

Other than Kenny Williams, the rest of starting lineup also all finished in double figures in scoring. Isaiah Hicks finished with 11 and five rebounds, and notably stayed out of foul trouble. Joel Berry also went for 11, while Justin Jackson went for 12, five rebounds and three assists.

The second half was an impressive effort on both ends of the floor. UNC scored just 33 points on 31 shots in the first half, shooting just 41.9%. Then in the second half, they shot 61.8% from the floor, while going 6-11 from three.

Meanwhile on defense, they held Northern Iowa to just 7-27 shooting in the second half. Eleven minutes into the second, the Panthers had managed just six points in the half.

Other than the poor shooting, UNC didn’t even play that badly in the first half. It’s just that UNI kept the pace down and kept it slow, and hit five three pointers to stay in it. In the second half, the Tar Heels got things closer to how they want to play and blew away the Panthers. It was another example of how good this team can be when they get going.

The Tar Heels have just one more non-conference game remaining before ACC play starts. The last two games have shown that North Carolina looks to be in pretty good shape as they head into conference play.