Mens Basketball: North Carolina 86, Northern Iowa 69 - D1SportsNet


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Mens basketball

North Carolina 86, Northern Iowa 69

Luke Maye finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds as No. 9 North Carolina pulled away after a slow start and defeated Northern Iowa 86-69 in the season opener for both schools Friday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Maye, a 6-foot-8 junior forward, helped the defending national champions take command in the second half. North Carolina took a 45-31 halftime lead before Maye and his teammates helped the Tar Heels pull away.

The forward made two 3-pointers and another basket, accounting for eight points in an 18-9 run that gave the Tar Heels a 63-40 lead.

Maye made 11 of 16 shots from the field. In fact, the Tar Heels shot well all night long, making 50 percent from the field.

In addition, they dominated the smaller Northern Iowa team in the paint, scoring 36 points in the lane as the Panthers simply could not stop them at times.

North Carolina also got offensive help from freshman forward Garrison Brooks (14 points) and junior guard Kenny Williams (10 points).

The Tar Heels made 18 of 21 free throws and finished with 20 assists on 31 baskets. They moved the ball well and eventually found open shots.

Northern Iowa, which now has lost in North Carolina for the past two seasons, was led by sophomore guard Spencer Haldeman with 15 points. Sophomore guard Isaiah Brown also chipped in 13 points for the Panthers.

This game stayed close in the early minutes as North Carolina held a 22-18 lead before the Tar Heels went on a 13-2 run.

NOTES: North Carolina G Joel Berry did not play, out with a broken bone in his right hand suffered in preseason. He was the Most Outstanding Player in last spring's Final Four. ... The Tar Heels went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the first half. ... Northern Iowa did not shoot a free throw until the second half. ... Northern Iowa was picked to finish second in the preseason Missouri Valley Conference poll.