CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Nate Britt matched his career high with 17 points and No. 1 North Carolina gradually pulled away in the second half to beat Fairfield 92-65 on Sunday.
Joel Berry II added 15 points for the Tar Heels (2-0), who led all the way to win their 14th consecutive home opener. But UNC followed its 24-point win over Temple in Friday’s opener with an unimpressive showing full of missed free throws and leaky defense.
The Tar Heels struggled to put away a team that went 7-24 last season, a performance that had Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams burn a first-half timeout and let his team have it during an animated stoppage.
UNC led 40-32 at halftime and didn’t put the game away until the final 10 minutes against the Stags (0-2), who hit 10 3-pointers that kept them hanging around longer than expected.
The Tar Heels are playing without preseason Atlantic Coast Conference co-player of the year Marcus Paige for the first few weeks of the season due to a broken right hand, so the play of Britt and Berry along the perimeter in Paige’s absence at least offered some positives for the Tar Heels.
• Dakota Mathias scored 17 points and Isaac Haas added 16 in Purdue’s 107-79 victory over Vermont in a game in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tipoff.
• Bronson Koenig scored 23 points and Vitto Brown added a career-high 16 as No. 17 Wisconsin beat Siena 92-65.