Caleb Love scored 17 points in his first college game and No. 16 North Carolina had a big early lead disappear before recovering for a 79-60 season-opening home victory against College of Charleston on Wednesday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
A 14-point edge for the Tar Heels turned into a 43-42 deficit with 15 minutes remaining before they grabbed control again with a 17-0 run. The first 12 points of that spurt all came from freshmen.
Freshmen Day'Ron Sharpe (13 points) and RJ Davis (11 points) joined Love in making a big impact for North Carolina's freshman class. Sharpe also pulled in 10 rebounds, while Love was 8-for-8 on free throws.
Armando Bacot added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels, who overcame 4-for-18 shooting on 3-pointers. Garrison Brooks had 11 rebounds but didn't score in the second half after six first-half points.
The Tar Heels, who hold a top-25 ranking entering a season for the 15th year in a row, are hoping to put the misery of a 14-19 season behind them. Wednesday was one of only two scheduled nonconference home games for North Carolina. The Tar Heels were 7-7 in home games last season.
Brevin Galloway had 15 points and Payton Willis added 13 to lead College of Charleston. Galloway made three of the Cougars' eight 3-point baskets.
The Cougars missed their first 11 shots from the field, but North Carolina's 14-point lead dipped to 19-12 shortly after the midway mark of the first half as College of Charleston connected on five shots in a row.
The margin shrunk to three points before the Tar Heels held a 39-32 halftime edge. But an 0-for-7 shooting stretch by North Carolina to begin the second half gave the Cougars an opening to take their only lead of the game.
North Carolina benefitted from a 19-4 advantage in made free throws. The Tar Heels have now won 16 straight season openers.
-Field Level Media