Tar Heels trump Purple Aces to regain winning form

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Roy Williams can experiment with lineups this month
DEAN SMITH CENTER/CHAPEL HILL — Having lost two of its past three games, North Carolina smoked a very poor Evansville team tonight 97-48. The Purple Aces are a bad squad even by mid-major standards, featuring a tiny frontline that at times resulted in normal-sized human beings attempting to defend Carolina seven-footer Tyler Zeller.

Harrison Barnes led the way with an easy 17 points, while both John Henson (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Zeller (12 points, 10 rebounds) notched double-doubles. As a team, the Heels held Evansville to just 26 percent shooting, and that included a full five minutes of playing time for some of the walk-ons.

Over-analyzing such a contest would be pedantic and, frankly, a waste of time. I’ll spare you and note that you can expect several blowouts over the next three weeks prior to ACC competition, Texas looming as the one likely exception on December 21.

Having established that, however, the Evansville game was “rout-ier” than most routs. The Purple Aces simply weren’t big or athletic enough to pose any sort of challenge at all. They conceded nearly every rebound on their end of the court, preferring instead to retreat into transition defense and attempt to limit damage from UNC’s up-tempo attack.

Perhaps the one noteworthy item was Carolina’s return to awful free throw shooting; the Heels made only 61 percent of their foul shots. Again, though, concentration obviously won’t peak in such a non-competitive outing.

Long Beach State travels to Chapel Hill on Saturday and should offer more substantial resistance. The 49ers threatened Carolina last season behind the talents of point guard Casper Ware — isn’t that a cool name? — and at least possess enough speed to attack the Heels off the dribble.

Click here to see the UNC/Evansville box score.

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