No. 9 Tar Heels hold off Bucknell

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Luke Maye scored 20 points and No. 9 North Carolina held on to give coach Roy Williams his 400th victory at the school, a 93-81 win over Bucknell on Wednesday night in the on-campus round of the PK80.

Theo Pinson added a career-high 19 points for the Tar Heels (2-0), who shot 47 percent and welcomed back Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joel Berry on the same day graduate transfer Cameron Johnson was lost for 4-6 weeks following knee surgery.

North Carolina blew most of an early 16-point lead but scored nine straight points after the Bison cut the lead to 71-67 on Nate Sestina’s layup with 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Pinson started the decisive burst with two free throws, and Maye pushed it back to double figures with his 3-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes remaining that made it 78-67.

Nana Foulland and Zack Thomas scored 21 points apiece for Bucknell (0-3). The Patriot League favorites shot 46 percent and were 11 of 28 from 3-point range to offset a serious disadvantage inside.

Sterling Manley had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Garrison Brooks and Kenny Williams had 10 points apiece for North Carolina, which held a 47-28 rebounding advantage.

Williams improved to 400-115 since returning to his alma mater in 2003, and won his 200th game at the Dean E. Smith Center.

BIG PICTURE

Bucknell: The Bison – who return their starting five from a team that won 26 games and the Patriot League title before losing to West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament – showed no fear of the Tar Heels and looked nothing like the team that lost by 28 at Arkansas three days earlier. This was the kind of performance that will make them a trendy bracket-busting pick, if they repeat as conference champs.

North Carolina: The most important thing for the Tar Heels – aside from sweating out a closer-than-expected victory – was getting Berry back on the court, though the results could have been better. The star of last season’s national championship run had been out since breaking a bone in his right (shooting) hand. Playing with tape on his hand, he made his first shot – a 3-pointer – but missed his next 10 and finished 1 of 11 with eight points, though he did have six assists.

UP NEXT

Bucknell: The Bison will try once again to beat a high-profile opponent on its home court when they visit Maryland on Saturday night.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels head across the country to face Stanford on Nov. 20 before heading to Portland, Oregon, for the rest of the PK80, the Nike-sponsored event to honor founder Phil Knight.

 

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