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Off the cuff: It's good to get a relatively easy win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Especially since the Tar Heels won't get fat and happy after the 28-point victory over Wagner. There's enough to work on.

Hopefully, Elliott Cadeau got a wake-up call in the first half after turning the ball over four times. Carolina is unlikely to survive against Michigan State with such a performance.

Without mentioning names, RJ Davis said, "In the first half, we didn't do a good job of getting out on the break." That's an understatement as all of Carolina's 14 fastbreak points came in the second half.

The bad vibes extended on the defensive end as RJ Davis said the Heels "slacked off a little bit" and miscommunicated or didn't communicate well with each other.

If not for Jae'Lyn Withers flying all over the place, taking over the game, the Tar Heels would have been in a dogfight at the start of the second half.

As it was, the 12-point halftime advantage was comfortable enough and then the larger, deeper, more talented Heels put Wagner away in the second half.

Carolina won't have the same luxuries against a Michigan State team that played one of its best games of the season earlier in the day.

Carolina 90, Wagner 62
UNC outmans Wagner, breaks it open

(Photo by UNC Sports Information)

North Carolina, rebounding from a disappointing ACC Tournament Title loss, was too big, too deep and too talented for Wagner as the Tar Heels won going away 90-62 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Charlotte. (3/21) 

Although Wagner never led, it was uncomfortably close early on as Carolina had trouble getting out in transition without turning the ball over. But then, Charlotte native Jae'Lyn Withers and Armando Bacot were beasts inside, helping the Tar Heels get some distance from Wagner.

With the score tied at 13-13 after the first seven minutes of the game, Carolina went on a 16-6 run to go up 31-21. During that run, Withers had seven points and an assist.

"I think he did set the tone," UNC coach Hubert Davis said about Withers, adding that the Heels were out of sync early on with several unforced turnovers. "He came off the bench and he ignited us."

It was Withers best game of the season as he scored a season-high 16 points and hauled in 10 rebounds. "My family is sitting courtside and I get a double-double so it's great," Withers said.

First-team All-America RJ Davis and third-team All-America Armando Bacot did their usual damage scoring 22 and 20 points respectively. Bacot led all rebounders with 15. The Tar Heels outrebounded Wagner 43-24.

Wagner, who had several injuries during the season, was playing with just seven players and both of their big men got in trouble in the first half. Still, Carolina had not broken the game open yet as the Heels led 40-28 at the break.

In the first half, RJ Davis said the Heels didn't do a good job of getting out on the fastbreak on offense and didn't do a good job communicating on defense, leading to some open threes which Wagner hit.

That all changed in the second half as Carolina outscored Wagner 50-34. The lead got as high as 30 at 88-58 when Paxson Wojcik drilled a deep three late in the game. The scout team even got into the action as Dewey Farris passed to Rob Landry on a nice play with less than a minute to go.

It won't be that easy as Saturday's second-round opponent Michigan State looked solid against Mississippi State to advance to play UNC.

Julian Brown and Mel Council each scored 18 points to lead Wagner who finishes the season with a 17-16 mark.

Joining Davis, Bacot and Withers in double figures for Carolina was Cormac Ryan with 13 points. The Tar Heels, now 28-7, advance to the second round against ninth-seeded Michigan State in Charlotte on Saturday.

Box score

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