Asheville goes down swinging vs No. 1 UNC 91-75

Updated: November 13, 2011, 8:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The debut of UNC Asheville's new Kimmel Arena went about as well as could be expected, considering the opponents was No. 1 North Carolina.

Asheville came out firing, hung with the top-ranked Tar Heels throughout the first half and even got the sellout crowd of 3,200 to chant "Over-rated!" before falling 91-75 on Sunday.

"I thought we were competitive; I thought we were a very scrappy team," Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "I was pleased with the way we competed. I think we're good. I don't know how good. I think with a couple of breaks the game is close."

Less than 48 hours after beating Michigan State on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, UNC (2-0) shot 59 percent from the field and overcame some early turnover troubles by dominating the paint with the 7-foot Tyler Zeller and 6-11 John Henson Asheville's tallest starter is 6-foot-5 Quinard Jackson.

Zeller scored 27 points and Henson had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

J.P. Primm scored 23 points, and Jaron Lane added a career-high 21 for Asheville (0-2) -- a team that won the Big South Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament last year.

"We approached this as another game," Lane said. "Everybody was hyping it up because it was No. 1 Carolina. But it definitely showed up how good we can be and how good we can play, and we can't wait for conference play."

The teams exchanged the lead four times early, but UNC took a 48-39 lead into halftime then opened the second half with a 13-3 run that put the game out of reach.

UNC arrived in Asheville at 5 a.m. local time Saturday morning after playing the first college game on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and the Tar Heels didn't exactly look crisp early Sunday.

The second time North Carolina tried getting the ball inside to Zeller, UNC Asheville's Quinard Jackson poked it away and started a fast break opportunity that resulted in the Bulldogs' first points.

Zeller was 11-of-13 from the free throw line and added nine rebounds as North Carolina outrebounded the Bulldogs 41-27.

Barnes finished with 17 points for UNC, which shot 59.3 percent from the field.

The home team's highlights began when Grammy-winning musician Bruce Hornsby, the father of UNC Asheville freshman Keith Hornsby, played the national anthem on piano before the game.

"It was a big-time crowd, a great way to open the facility, and I hope everybody had a good time," said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who grew up in Asheville.

Asheville took its biggest lead when a pullup by Chris Stephenson gave the Bulldogs a 14-9 advantage less than even minutes in UNC scored the next nine points to take the lead for good then got a pair of thundering dunks by Harrison Barnes to squelch potential rallies by the Bulldogs, who earned some respect from the Heels.

"They're a fantastic team," Zeller said. "They can shoot the ball very, very well. I think if they'd had bigs, they could have caused us even more problems. . They did a superb job of shooting the ball and playing their game."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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