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UNC Basketball: Tar Heels shake off rust, hold off UNCW

It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.

NCAA Basketball: NC-Wilmington at North Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

On a night when many of the best teams in college basketball made it a habit of putting a hurting on inferior competition, UNC struggled offensively like a team that has not yet fully found their groove. While triple digits would have surely been fun, the Tar Heels were able to come away with a win and plenty of things to work on moving forward.

Defensively, the Tar Heels looked tough. A combination of that good defense and poor shooting from UNCW limited the Seahawks to just 29% from the floor. Neither team was able to get much going from distance. Carolina hit two threes to UNCW’s four.

It was a bit of a rock fight for the first 15 minutes of action before UNC put some healthy distance between them and the Seahawks late in the first half. UNCW wasn’t going away, though, and they managed to stay within striking distance throughout. UNC held a 32-21 halftime advantage, but things were even tighter, 37-35 UNC, in the second half.

Carolina was led by Caleb Love and RJ Davis’ 17 points. Armando Bacot also finished in double figures with 16 points, one short of a double-double with nine boards. Bacot did miss some time in the second half with foul trouble. The Heels shot better in the second half (54%) than they did in the first 20 minutes when it seemed like they were having to work through months worth of rust. They also held UNCW to just 24% shooting from the field in the second half.

There is no real canary in the coal mine here, because it’s the first game and drawing conclusions from it is pretty futile. The one statistic that was glaring, however, was that the Tar Heels were out-rebounded 32-37 in the game. The hallmark of successful Carolina teams is being able to beat their opponents on the boards, so that will definitely be a point of emphasis moving forward.

Hubert Davis will have a few days for teaching moments about this one before UNC welcomes College of Charleston to Chapel Hill on Friday.