NEW ORLEANS – Juniors Justin Jackson and Joel Berry both delivered career-best scoring performances in No. 6 North Carolina’s season-opening 95-75 victory over Tulane at the Smoothie King Center on Friday.
Jackson led all scorers with a career-high 27 points, while Berry joined the mix by topping his career high with 23. It was the first time the classmates had scored 20 or more points in the same game.
Jackson converted his first five field goal attempts in shooting 9-of-12 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. The Tomball, Texas native also dished out four assists. Berry’s stat line was more robust, knocking down 6-of-11 field goal attempts (4-of-7 from 3), grabbing six rebounds, dishing out four assists and forcing two steals.
Tulane’s 7-0 spurt midway through the first cut its deficit to 20-19. UNC countered with a 22-7 run, pairing 9-0 and 7-0 runs to build a 46-32 cushion entering halftime. The Green Wave was unable to pull within single digits in the second half.
Williams Earns First Start
With expected starter Theo Pinson sidelined with a broken foot, senior Nate Britt started at the off guard spot in both UNC’s scrimmage against Memphis and its exhibition against UNC Pembroke. However, Kenny Williams started the second half in that spot against the Braves, which hinted at Roy Williams’s decision to give the sophomore wing his first career start.
The Midlothian, Va. native struggled with his shot, missing four of his five attempts (including all three 3-pointers), but was active defensively and tallied five rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes.
Rebounding Woes Early, Often
Tulane kept it close early by winning the boards, despite its small lineup. The Green Wave held a 14-11 edge, including a 5-1 advantage on the offensive glass, in pulling within 20-19 with 9:44 to play in the first half. The rebounding success paid dividends in the form of a 6-1 edge in second-chance points.
The Tar Heels then buckled down, outrebounding Tulane 11-6 the remainder of the half and finishing with a 52-38 margin (18-17 OR) despite various breakdowns throughout the contest. Kennedy Meeks led UNC with 15 rebounds (7 OR), while four other Tar Heels pulled down five or more.
Season Opening Success
UNC improved to 95-12 all-time in season openers, including an 82-5 mark since the 1930-31 season. Roy Williams is now 26-3 all-time in season openers.
UNC returns to Chapel Hill for its home opener against Chattanooga on Sunday at 4pm. The Mocs, which returned their top three scorers from last season’s 29-6 team, are fresh off a 82-69 victory over Tennessee in Knoxville.