CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—Despite another high-scoring game, Roy Williams just wasn’t happy with North Carolina’s offense Saturday.
Sure, the impressive numbers were there in the Tar Heels’ 93-62 victory over North Carolina-Asheville—marking the sixth time they hit the 90-point mark in a season that’s on pace to be one of the program’s best.
But Williams sounded more focused on the way his team was scoring points instead of how many, going as far as to say the team “stunk it up” offensively.
That came from a coach whose Tar Heels (8-1) had nine players score, including four in double figures.
Freshman Brandan Wright had 21 points and nine rebounds, while fellow rookie Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough each added 15 points in North Carolina’s fast-paced attack. The Tar Heels also finished with 24 assists and 12 turnovers, shot 48 percent and led by as many as 35 points against the Bulldogs (4-6).
That still wasn’t enough to keep Williams completely happy. With his team holding a 22-point lead midway through the second half, Williams stomped his feet and screamed at his team to “Pass the ball!” after a ragged stretch. Then, after Danny Green traveled while trying to turn a steal into a basket on a 1-on-3 break, Williams chewed out his team during a timeout.
Williams said North Carolina—which had a week off for final exams—had spent its two practices this week focusing on defense. Now he’s talking about spending more time on an offense that seems to be humming along.
“We’ve got to do a better job offensively of not trying to go on your own,” Williams said. “We don’t have bad kids. They’re not selfish. They just say, ‘Well, we haven’t scored. I can score.’ But the bottom line is it has to be, ‘We can score.”’
The players seemed to hear the message, odd as it seemed on the surface.
“It is strange, but at the same time we always talk about not just scoring 93 points, but how we’re scoring 93 points,” said sophomore Marcus Ginyard, who had six points.
“Everybody can feel it. Everybody knows what Coach wants and the way he wants to play. It doesn’t take Coach to be stomping like that to know we’re not doing something right. … It’s just something we’ve got to take upon ourselves to really start doing by ourselves without our coaches yelling at us like that.”
The Tar Heels shot 43 percent and scored 37 points after halftime, off their season averages of 90.1 points and 51 percent shooting coming in. Regardless, they were plenty impressive against UNC Asheville.
North Carolina used a 22-1 run to take a 19-point lead midway through the first half. The 6-foot-9 Wright had 15 points in the half, helping the Tar Heels lead by as many as 22 points before taking a 56-39 halftime lead. He did it with the kind of all-around game that has made him one of the nation’s top freshmen.
He scored North Carolina’s first basket on a jumper that bounced around the rim before dropping through, followed by a hanging layup over three defenders— including 7-6 center Kenny George—while drawing the foul. He also had three dunks and hit all five of his free throws in the half.
“We felt pretty good coming out today,” Wright said. “We had a lot of energy. Guys had their legs. We felt like we could do a lot of things.”
He had plenty of help for the game from fellow rookies Ellington (two 3s, five rebounds) and Ty Lawson (six points, eight assists). Hansbrough finished with seven rebounds as part of the team’s 50-34 edge on the glass, while Reyshawn Terry (13 points, six rebounds) hit all three of his 3-point attempts.
North Carolina came out of halftime with another burst that drained the last drama from the game, getting a 3-pointer and a dunk from Terry followed by a three-point play from Ellington to make it 67-41 with 16:21 left.
“North Carolina is great at execution,” said UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach, whose team fell to 0-44 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. “Their only problem is their lack of experience having freshmen in there. But those freshmen are very good players and they have so much room to improve. To be such a good team with young players, there’s no telling how good they can be.”