Omar Carter (Charlotte, N.C./Charleston Southern) led the Mountaineers with 21 points as Appalachian State University men’s basketball repeatedly
fought off attacks by North Carolina before eventually falling, 97-82, in front of 20,892 fans at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday night.
The senior came off the bench for the first time this season and responded by shooting 7-of-15 from the floor and leading Appalachian (4-6) with seven rebounds and his second 20-point performance of the season.
Appalachian fell into a 21-8 hole early on but climbed back within 34-30 with four minutes remaining in the opening half behind Carter’s 16 first-half points. UNC then used a 12-point run to regain a more comfortable advantage and take a 48-32 lead into the intermission.
Coming out of the break, the Tar Heels worked up to a 75-46 advantage with 11 minutes to play. From there, freshmen Tab Hamilton (Winston-Salem, N.C./Fishburne) and Mike Neal (Greensboro, N.C./Oak Ridge) took over for the Apps, scoring 18 of the team’s next 27 points to bring ASU within 15 points with four minutes to play.
No. 5 UNC (9-2) finished strong as Tyler Zeller paced the team with 31 points and 10 rebounds and lead the Heels to their 22nd straight home win and 52nd non-conference home win in a row. The 7-foot senior reached his season scoring high on 11-of-15 shooting from the field and a 9-of-10 mark from the charity stripe. Teammate Kendall Marshall added 13 of UNC’s 17 assists.
ASU shot a solid 42.6 percent from the floor and sank 9-of-20 treys on the night, compared to a 54.5 percent mark for the home team. UNC sank just two of its 10 attempts from beyond the arc. ASU’s 10 turnovers were a season-best.
Head coach Jason Capel put out a new lineup for the contest, as sophomore Brian Okam (Enugu, Nigeria/Rutgers) and Neal made their first career starts. It was also just the second start for Rodney Milum (Houston, Texas/Midland College). The trio joined Jamaal Trice (Los Angeles, Calif./Midland College) and Andre Williamson (Dayton, Ohio/Prince George), who have started in all 10 contests.
Neal finished with a career-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Milum added eight points on a pair of threes and Okam swatted two of ASU’s four blocks in addition to hauling in a rebound.
Hamilton scored 11 points, including a 6-of-6 mark from the free-throw line. ASU shot a season-best 88.2 percent from the line, sinking 15-of-17 foul shots in the second half.
Williamson reached double figures with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting and his second career three-pointer. The senior forward grabbed three of ASU’s 32 rebounds and was held without a block for the first time in 10 games this season.
Trice missed on both of his shot attempts and was shut out from scoring for the first time in the Black and Gold. The wing dished out an assist and grabbed one rebound in 23 minutes.
Appalachian returns home to host Campbell on Thursday, Dec. 22. The 7 p.m. contest in the Holmes Center is ASU’s final home game of the 2011 calendar year.
NOTES: Saturday’s game marked Capel’s return to the Smith Center, where he starred for four seasons for UNC ... ASU’s 82 points were its second-highest total of the season, trailing only the team’s 90 points in the season opener ... it was also ASU’s best scoring output in five games against the in-state rival, as the team had not topped 69 points in the four previous meetings.
UNC 97, ASU 82
1st 2nd Total
Appalachian State................32 50 - 82
North Carolina....................48 49 - 97
ASU: WILLIAMSON 11, MILUM 8, NEAL 15, HAMILTON 11, VILARINO 5, HEALY 5, CARTER 21 (7 REBOUNDS), BUTTS 4, HAUSLEY 2. FG: 29-68, 3FG: 9-20, FT: 15-17. 32 REBOUNDS, 10 TURNOVERS, 13 ASSISTS.
UNC: HENSON 17 (6 REBOUNDS), BARNES 9, ZELLER 31 (10 REBOUNDS), STRICKLAND 6, MARSHALL 4 (13 ASSISTS), WHITE 2, HUBERT 2, HAIRSTON 10, BULLOCK 10, McADOO 6. FG: 36-66, 3FG: 2-10, FT: 23-33. 39 REBOUNDS, 7 TURNOVERS, 17 ASSISTS.
Photo Courtesy: Omar Carter, ASU Athletics