(Photo credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Armando Bacot pumped in 21 points and No. 20 North Carolina scored the first 19 points of the second half to defeat visiting UC Riverside 77-52 on Friday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Jalen Washington and Seth Trimble posted 11 points and Harrison Ingram had 10 points and nine rebounds for North Carolina (3-0), which used three home games to tune up for next week's Battle 4 Atlantis where the competition is bound to become stiffer.
It was markedly different from the first two games for North Carolina, when its opponents hung around for a bit longer before the Tar Heels established safe margins.
Bacot, who was 7-for-11 from the field, has scored more than 20 points in all three games this season.
The Tar Heels led 37-26 at halftime before the defense clicked and made the game a blowout.
The Highlanders went almost 9 1/2 minutes into the second half before scoring on Vladimer Salaridze's basket from the lane. By then, they trailed 56-28, and it was nearly another three minutes before UC Riverside connected on another shot from the field.
Benjamin Griscti tallied 14 points and Barrington Hargress notched 10 points for UC Riverside, which shot 30.6 percent from the field in the program's first-ever meeting with North Carolina.
The Tar Heels didn't exactly light it up from the perimeter, shooting 6-for-21 on 3-pointers even though Bacot drilled a 3 with about six minutes remaining. It marked the fifth-year player's second career 3-pointer. Washington made both of his attempts from beyond the arc.
North Carolina benefitted from a 15-5 scoring advantage at the foul line.
North Carolina broke out to a 30-9 lead. UC Riverside scored 12 points across the last six minutes of the first half, while the Tar Heels managed only five points during that stretch, failing to score in the last 2 1/2 minutes before the break.
--Field Level Media