CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Four Tar Heels scored in double figures as fifth-ranked North Carolina knocked off the visiting Elon Phoenix, 100-62, in non-conference men’s basketball action from the Dean Smith Center on Thursday evening in the final contest of 2011 for both teams. Elon’s (7-5) Lucas Troutman registered his first double-double of the season and Sebastian Koch led the way for the Phoenix with 17 points, but it was not enough to overcome the impressive play of the home team. UNC (12-2) extended its home unbeaten streak to a school-record tying 25 straight games.
“We played a very, very good basketball team,” noted Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “I haven’t seen all of the top teams, but I know that they have to be arguably the best team in the country. Unfortunately for us, they played very well tonight. A lot of the spread in the first half was a result of their good play. We wish that we would have answered the bell a little bit better. We wish that when they were playing well that we would have been able to bounce back, fight back and not get knocked so far back on our heels in the first half.
“We are encouraged, as we head into our conference schedule now, that we were able to continue to fight in the game. We count four-minute rounds, and we won the last three rounds. That’s something we will build on. But we played a very, very good basketball team tonight.”
A Troutman tip-in with 11:16 to go in the first half made it a four-point UNC edge, 18-14. Unfortunately, that was the last point the Phoenix would score over the next eight minutes as the Tar Heels used a 23-0 run to put the game all but out of reach before the half. A Koch field goal at the 3:01 mark finally halted the run, but UNC carried a 53-19 advantage into the locker room.
“We stayed on 14 for a long time,” Matheny said. “We have struggled offensively, and the medicine for struggling offensively is not playing at North Carolina. They went on a big, big run. We did not get good shots and then they got out in the open court, and they’re a great transition team.”
Troutman scored 11 points and added 10 boards while Koch scored his points on five three-pointers. Elon struggled on the glass against the oversized Tar Heels with UNC holding a decisive 64-35 advantage on the boards. North Carolina got a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds from Tyler Zeller. Harrison Barnes (18), John Henson (16) and Dexter Strickland (10) also netted double figures.
North Carolina shot 47 percent compared to 33 percent by the Phoenix. Elon has held opponents to under 40 percent in all seven wins this year, but has given up percentages of 40 percent or better in each one of its losses. The Heels scored 58 points in the paint.
Elon will head back to class after the New Year and also get into the heart of Southern Conference play beginning next Thursday, January 5. Elon will put its undefeated league mark on the line when Georgia Southern visits Alumni Gym for a 7 p.m. tip.