Tyler Hansbrough said, “This year and last year are totally two different teams. Last year we had to make our mark, this year our mark is already there for us.”
UNC hosted its own intra-squad track meet on Wednesday in its first of two exhibitions. The Tar Heels payed little attention to the visiting fodder, as it exacted an early 15-0 run to take a 28-15 lead. Shooting 57.1 percent from the floor and forcing 17 turnovers, the Tar Heels scored 58 points before intermission.
Carolina, ranked No. 2 in the country by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, hit the century mark on a baseline jumper by freshman Wayne Ellington with 2:57 to play before Roy Williams cleared his bench.
“I always look at an exhibition as a glorified practice,” Williams said. “We weren’t trying to beat State, Wake, Duke, Kentucky or anything like that. We’re going to try a faster pace and try to speed the game up and get more possessions.”
Brandan Wright electrified the crowd of 12,230 early scoring 10 of UNC’s first 13 points on a variety of moves that mostly ended in slam dunks. The 6-9 freshman finiahed with a team-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
“He’s pretty good,” Williams said of Wright’s performance. “If he’s not good, I look pretty stupid. I went to Nashville four times his junior year. The best thing about him is he’s been a really quick learner.”
Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard each scored 14 points and Ellington added 13.
Bobby Frasor led the team with six assists and Ty Lawson added five as well as a pair of steals.
“There’s a lot more rest so when you're out on the court you can put it all out there,” Frasor said. “You don’t have to worry about not having a sub to come in for you because we're loaded at every spot.”
In a predetermined lineup rotation, Williams began with a starting lineup of Wright, Hansbrough, Frasor, Wes Miller and Reyshawn Terry. At the 15:32 mark, he put in Lawson, Ellington, Danny Green, Alex Stepheson and Deon Thompson. Ginyard and Thomas entered about five minutes later, as 12 Tar Heels contributed double-digit minutes.
“I decided at about four o’clock to rotate in based on minutes,” Williams said. “I don’t know if I’ll do that the next game; I’m not comfortable with it. The only time I’ve ever (substituted five players at once) is when I was really ticked like last year in the Duke game. I don’t know if I will do that next game or not.”
Asked if he could continue to rotate four big men for meaningful minutes, Williams answered, “I can get three big guys plenty of playing time without any worries.”
In what may have been the quietest 27-point performance in Smith Center history, St. Aug’s guard Antonio Fitzgerald led all scorers.