Chapel Hill, NC – P.J. Hairston poured in a game-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds on Saturday, as No. 23 North Carolina clobbered McNeese State, 97-63, at the Smith Center.
Reggie Bullock buried five 3-pointers en route to 17 points and James Michael McAdoo donated 12 points and seven rebounds for the Tar Heels (9-3), who were coming off an uninspiring 85-67 loss at Texas on Wednesday night.
"A win always makes you feel better," Hairston admitted. "The main thing is that we did better this game and we played with more heart and we played together as a team."
Jeremie Mitchell led the Cowboys (6-4) with 13 points and Craig McFerrin followed with 10 points in the setback, snapping McNeese State's five-game win streak.
"I am proud of the way our guys fought back in the end," McNeese State coach Dave Simmons said. "It was a good game for us. It is telling us where we need to go if we want to play teams like this. It's humbling."
After never holding a lead in Wednesday's disappointing loss to the Longhorns, North Carolina scored the first bucket of Saturday's blowout victory and never looked back.
The margin was just one, 5-4, three minutes into the contest before the Tar Heels reeled off 17 of the next 19 points to build a 22-6 advantage.
Leslie McDonald knocked down a pair of triples in the spurt and Dexter Strickland capped it with a jumper to give UNC a 16-point edge with 10:37 left in the first half.
A 9-0 sprint from the Tar Heels later in the frame extended the margin to 43-14 with under four minutes left and the home team carried a comfortable 54-23 advantage into the break.
North Carolina cruised in the second half, never allowing the Cowboys to get closer than 25 en route to the victory.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's basketball ... North Carolina hosts No. 21 UNLV next Saturday before opening up conference play on Jan. 6 at Virginia ... UNC shot 47.3 percent (35-for-74) from the field, while McNeese State shot 35.6 percent (26-for-73) from the floor.