The Tar Heels (11-1) bounced back from a horrid shooting half (29.4) against Saint Louis to knock down 64 percent of their field goals in the final period. And they shot down the Scarlet Knights with a 65 percent second half barrage that included a pair of 18-2 runs and five straight three-pointers by way of Wayne Ellington, Wes Miller and Danny Green.
Brandan Wright led all scorers with 19 points to go with three blocks, Ellington hit five-of-six from beyond the arc to finish with 17, while Tyler Hansbrough added 13.
“Wayne made three big threes in a row, and that was huge for us,” Roy Williams said.
Ty Lawson registered a career-high nine assists without a turnover, as he now has eight or more assists in his last four games. Since taking over the starting role seven games ago, Lawson has 51 assists against just 10 turnovers.
“Everybody is hitting their shots, and that is helping me out,” Lawson said. “I’m just penetrating and kicking it out; that’s probably why my assists are going up now.”
Lawson's backup, Miller, recorded five assists and no turnovers, so the two Tar Heel point guards combined for 14 assists and zero turnovers.
"There’s a lot of stuff to be happy about and I congratulated them," Williams said when asked about the team's assist numbers. "I thought we did some very nice things against a team that was trying to control the tempo and run-down the shot clock."
Missing two starters – including its leading scorer JR Inman – Rutgers (6-6) had more missed field goals (8-for-28) in the first half than points scored, managing just one assist on eight field goals. However, the Scarlet Knights ball control game plan minimized possessions as Carolina took an uneasy 33-19 lead at the break.
Rutgers coach Fred Hill said of the suspensions, “You don’t pick and choose when those things happen and Carolina happened to be on the schedule.”
Roy Williams added, "It's hard to go on the road and play at Carolina without two of your starters."
Better yet, it's hard to play at Carolina period. The Tar Heels are 7-0 at the Smith Center this season and haven't lost there since last Feb. 7.