Nov. 23, 2009

*Courtesy of UNC Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Deon Thompson scored 22 points to help No. 11 North Carolina bounce back from its first loss and beat Gardner-Webb 93-72 on Monday night.

Tyler Zeller added 16 points for the Tar Heels (5-1), who led by double digits most of the way and had little trouble beating the instate Big South Conference program. It was the 599th victory for coach Roy Williams, now in his seventh year at his alma mater following 15 seasons in Kansas.

North Carolina was ranked sixth last week before falling to Syracuse by 16 points in the finals of the 2K Sports Classic on Friday night.

Grayson Flittner scored 32 points and hit nine 3-pointers to lead the Runnin' Bulldogs (3-1), but no other Gardner-Webb player cracked double figures.

North Carolina was ranked sixth last week before falling to Syracuse 87-71 in the final of the 2K Sports Classic on Friday night in New York. The Tar Heels led by two at halftime of that game before watching the Orange open the second half with a 22-1 run to take control before finishing the game shooting 54 percent.

It reminded everyone that despite the fact the Tar Heels are more talented than the last time they had to reload following a national championship run, they are still young in key positions and still learning how to blend numerous skilled players into a cohesive unit.

North Carolina didn't have nearly as much trouble with the Runnin' Bulldogs, leading by 15 points at halftime and 21 points early in the second half. The Tar Heels shot 56 percent and took a 50-32 rebounding advantage against their undersized opponents.

They also showed a familiar inability to effectively close out an opponent after building a big lead, allowing Gardner-Webb to hang around for much of the second half and get as close as 12 points with about 7 minutes left. North Carolina blew much of a 24-point lead and let Valparaiso get within nine points in last weekend's victory, then watched Ohio State cut a 16-point lead to two in the final minute of that win in New York.

Gardner-Webb shot 38 percent for the game, but hung around by hitting 15 of 36 3-point attempts.

North Carolina didn't have a strong performance at the foul line Monday, shooting 18 of33- the kind of showing that won't be good enough come Atlantic Coast Conference time.

Flittner hit six 3s in the first half, but the Tar Heels used a 12-0 run midway through the first half to build a 35-17 lead on a dunk by Ed Davis off a turnover with 8:05 left. Zeller - who got a cut over his right eye that required two stitches - scored on a rebound just before halftime to make it 53-38.

The Tar Heels scored on three straight possessions to open the second half, pushing the margin to 59-38 on a stickback dunk by Davis with 18 1/2 minutes left.