North Carolina showed off the high-powered offense that earned it a No. 1 ranking in the preseason poll on Sunday.
The top-ranked Tar Heels will be trying to build on that impressive win on Tuesday when they host South Carolina State as part of the Las Vegas Invitational.
North Carolina pounded Iona 107-72 on Sunday, winning its home opener for the 75th time in 77 years. Tyler Hansbrough, the leading vote-getter on the AP’s preseason All-America team, led five players in double figures with 27 points.
Danny Green added 15 for the Tar Heels, who shot 51 percent and led by as many as 40 points. North Carolina was coming off a narrow 72-68 win over Davidson in its season opener at Charlotte on Wednesday.
Last season, the Tar Heels ranked second in the country with 85.7 points per game.
“That’s the way we always love to play,” said Marcus Ginyard, who had seven points and three steals in 23 minutes. “We love that uptempo game, so we like to get out in the passing lanes and trap so we can get turnovers and steals—and be off to the races.”
The Tar Heels forced 23 turnovers and converted them into 32 points against the Gaels. Last season, they forced 610 turnovers, good for 10th in the nation.
“I thought we were really active defensively, particularly in the first half. We still did some good things, but not as consistently as we did in the first half,” coach Roy Williams said.
Hansbrough, who led the Tar Heels with 18.4 points per game last season, bounced back after a tough opener. He scored 12 points in the first half against Davidson, but picked up a technical foul and was limited to one shot attempt and managed only two points after the break.
On Sunday, however, he went 8-for-12 from the field and 11-for-15 from the line with nine rebounds in 26 minutes.
“I think I asserted myself better and got some better shots,” Hansbrough said.
Wayne Ellington chipped in 14 points and ranks second on the team with an average of 17.0. Green, meanwhile, is scoring 13.0 points per game off the bench.
“I feel good, I feel confident,” Green said. “I feel like coach has more confidence in me than he did last year. It’s a good feeling, it’s always a good feeling.”
South Carolina State (0-3) and first-year coach Tim Cartier are still searching for their first win of the season after Wednesday’s 76-64 loss to Jacksonville. Derrick Davis had a team-high 13 points, while Chris Miller-Williams, who leads the team with 11.7 points per game, added 11.
The Bulldogs, who went 4-12 on the road last season are 0-2 away from home. They lost 64-54 at Old Dominion on Nov. 11 in their first Las Vegas Invitational matchup. They are averaging just 61.7 points per game while opponents are averaging 77.3 points.
South Carolina State and North Carolina are meeting for the first time. The Tar Heels will next play Old Dominion on Friday at Las Vegas, while the Bulldogs will also travel to Las Vegas and play Iona the same day.