No. 7 North Carolina beats Appalachian State 94-70
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Brice Johnson stayed hot, and Marcus Paige stayed healthy.
Johnson scored 22 points to help No. 7 North Carolina beat Appalachian State 94-70 on Monday night.
Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks added 12 points each for the Tar Heels (10-2), who rolled to the win after Paige limped off the court once in each half.
Johnson, who established a career high for scoring in North Carolina’s previous two games, scored at least 22 points for the third straight game.
“I just wanted to go out there and be aggressive like I was in the last two games,” Johnson said. “When I’m aggressive and scoring, that opens everything up for everybody else.”
Joel Berry II had 11 points and a career-high 11 assists as North Carolina scored at least 80 points for the eighth consecutive game.
Paige played only 17 minutes, jamming his surgically repaired right ankle in the first half.
Paige walked into the tunnel to the locker room with 17:45 remaining in the game after converting a transition layup and did not return to the bench.
“There was no sense in bringing him back out,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
Paige said he was unable to get his ankle loose after it stiffened at halftime. He hurt the ankle while blocking a shot near the sideline midway through the first half.
Paige had arthroscopic surgery on the ankle during the offseason to remove bone spurs. He said after the game that he had minor swelling but that his ankle already was feeling better.
“It was a funny landing for me, and the area where I had surgery is sometimes sensitive still,” Paige said. “It just kind of jammed that specific part of my ankle and kind of was painful.”
The Tar Heels pulled away early with a 15-2 run in which they scored on seven of eight possessions. Johnson made two layups and two dunks in a span of 68 seconds as North Carolina seized control.
Freshman Ronshad Shabazz scored 18 of his season-high 21 points in the first half to lead the Mountaineers (2-9).
Frank Eaves had 13 points and Michael Obacha added 12 for Appalachian State, which lost its sixth consecutive game.
“We didn’t come out defensively and execute at the beginning of the game,” Appalachian State coach Jim Fox said. “I thought it got some of their guys going.”
Paige continued his climb on North Carolina’s all-time statistical lists. He made a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to become the 28th player in program history to score 1,500 career points. His lone assist of the game, a pass that set up Hicks for a dunk late in the first half, made him the 13th player in program history to total at least 500 career assists.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“I’m not worried about it at all. I’m going to be fine. And I’m not just saying that. Last year I was saying that I was fine, but I was hurt. This is nothing.” — Paige on his ankle
Appalachian State: Shabazz entered the game with just 8 3-pointers in 28 attempts (29 percent) for the season, but he made 4 of 5 3-point tries in the first half. . Eaves, the Sun Belt’s leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, finished 5 of 13 from the field.
North Carolina: Johnson made his first five shots of the game, tying Brad Daugherty’s school record of 16 consecutive made field goal attempts. Johnson’s streak came to an end when he missed a long jumper from the left wing just over 4 minutes into the game.
Appalachian State visits Louisiana Monroe on Dec. 31.
North Carolina hosts UNC Greensboro on Dec. 28.