No. 13 North Carolina pounds Tulane
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Accompanied by an array of impressive offensive numbers, North Carolina’s players were mostly consumed with their work at the defensive end Sunday afternoon.
The Tar Heels defense proved to be equally as effective.
Luke Maye produced another big game with 22 points while the No. 13 Tar Heels kept Tulane sputtering at the other end in a 97-73 victory at the Smith Center.
“That was a fun game because we were pretty locked in from the beginning,” North Carolina guard Kenny Williams said. “I think we were just locked in on defense.”
Joel Berry II and Williams both scored 13 points for the Tar Heels (8-1), whose eight wins are by double digits. Williams and Theo Pinson, who had nine points, did all their scoring in the first half.
Tulane (6-2) produced about 30 percent of its points in the last six minutes.
“I think we got our guys’ attention when we talked about playing better defense,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose team racked up a season-high nine blocked shots.
The offense worked out pretty well, too.
North Carolina shot 63.3 percent from the field, winning for the third time in a five-day period.
“When we were able to get in the lane early, that’s when we knew we’ll be fine,” Pinson said.
Maye, who also pulled down 10 rebounds, has scored at least 20 points in seven games this season after never scoring more than 17 points in a game during his first two seasons.
Freshmen Brandon Huffman and Jalek Felton both posted nine points for their season highs for North Carolina.
The Green Wave, which had a shooting percentage of at least 50 percent in four of its previous games, shot 37.7 percent from the field.
“I was disappointed in today’s game that we did not make the right plays,” Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said. “We have to take it and it has to be a learning tool for us.”
Melvin Frazier had 27 points, while Cameron Reynolds added 18 points, Jordan Cornish had 12 points and Caleb Daniels posted 11 points for Tulane, which has lost to the Tar Heels in three consecutive seasons. Frazier had 15 of his points in the last eight minutes.
North Carolina led 9-2 just two minutes into the game, causing Tulane to call a timeout.
By then, Dunleavy said he sensed the Tar Heels were looking like reigning national champions.
“They played like a team that has that pedigree,” he said. “I thought that we were further along and we had made more progress. We aspire to play the way this (North Carolina) team did.”
The Tar Heels made nine of their first 11 shots from the field on the way to a 21-4 lead. It was 30-8 barely halfway through the first half and 52-29 at halftime.
This marked a season-high, first-half point total for the Tar Heels, who reached at least 50 points in the opening 20 minutes in four of their games.
NOTES: North Carolina leads the series 16-1, including a victory to open last season in New Orleans. ... This marked the third game in a row that Tar Heels junior F Luke Maye notched a career high in some category, this time with four blocked shots. ... Despite the loss, Tulane has already matched its 2016-17 season victory total with six wins. ... When Tulane coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. was an NBA coach, he directed former North Carolina players James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Rasheed Wallace with the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. ... North Carolina is back in action Wednesday night at home against Western Carolina. ... Tulane is home Wednesday night against Southern.