Garrison Brooks scored 20 points and North Carolina prolonged a season that has been full of misery by blasting Virginia Tech 78-56 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament’s first round Tuesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C.
Brandon Robinson used a second-half 3-point barrage for 17 points, Armando Bacot added 12 points and Cole Anthony had 10 as North Carolina benefited from a huge advantage in the lane.
The Tar Heels (14-18) have the second-most losses in program history, with only the 8-20 record in 2001-02 worse. They have won four of their past five games since a seven-game losing streak.
North Carolina, which finished last in the ACC in the regular season and holds the No. 14 seed, takes on sixth-seeded Syracuse on Wednesday night in the second round.
Hunter Cattoor scored 14 points, Jalen Cone 11 and Landers Nolley II 10 points for the 11th-seeded Hokies (16-16) and first-year coach Mike Young.
An overwhelmingly partisan North Carolina crowd cheered on the Tar Heels in the second game of a doubleheader on the tournament’s opening game.
Brooks shot 6 for 11 from the field and 8 for 10 on free throws.
Robinson hit 3-point baskets on consecutive possessions to extend North Carolina’s lead to 63-43 at the seven-minute mark. The Hokies had just 17 points in the second half at that stage.
Robinson’s next 3 made it 68-43.
Even a four-minute, first-half scoring drought didn’t deter the Tar Heels, who went up 28-18 on Anthony’s 3-pointer and Bacot’s dunk.
North Carolina led 32-26 at halftime, with the Hokies shooting only 29 percent from the field.
It took Virginia Tech almost four minutes to score its first points of the second half.
The Tar Heel lost guard Christian Keeling to a first-half injury when he hobbled off and didn’t return until midway through the second half.
North Carolina avenged a double-overtime loss from Jan. 22 at Virginia Tech.
—Field Level Media