The Tar Heels win over Long Island on Friday night was anything but convincing as they suffered lapses both defensively and offensively.
However, the Heels heroic trinity of Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller halted any upset opportunities as all three scored more than 20 points.
Carolina jumped to an early lead by pushing the ball to get easy buckets and getting to the foul line.
Dexter Strickland showcased his speed as he contributed three fast break layups and an unselfish assist to Henson for a monster slam in the opening minutes.
Henson put so much into the two-handed dunk that he nearly landed on his back. His effort remained strong all night as he surpassed his career high in points in the first half, despite taking a vicious elbow to the face early on.
After surging to a 14-point advantage, the Heels lead evaporated in a matter of minutes as they continued to turn the ball over and take poor shots.
They missed their first five attempts from deep until Harrison Barnes drained his first of two. The team only made three treys out of 17 attempts on the night.
Barnes scored 24, but more impressively he snagged 16 rebounds. Henson ended up with 28 and 11, and could've had more if it wasn't for a few basket interference calls. He also swatted six shots.
UNC went on 20-9 run to end the half, and a 7-0 run at the start of the second, never allowing the Blackbirds to take the lead.
Zeller scored 11 straight UNC points in the second half and led all scorers with 32 along with nine boards and three blocks.
Defensive lapses by the Tar Heels kept LIU in the game as Jamal Olasewere was often able to penetrate and finish, ending up with 15 points. Julian Boyd was LIU's top player, with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
At one point, UNC allowed four fast break buckets in a row.
But although they gave up 87 points to a 15 seed, the Heels topped the century mark to close out the Blackbirds, and will advance to the third round to play either Washington or Georgia.
North Carolina's big three must continue to produce big numbers if their team is to keep moving on. Roy Williams also has some spring cleaning to perform on his sloppy squad.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!