CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Marcus Ginyard went from being the do-everything leader on a Final Four team at North Carolina to sitting out with an injury the following season while his teammates won a national championship without him.
He's off to a fast start in proving he's all the way back.
The fifth-year senior matched his career high with 17 points to help the Tar Heels (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) beat North Carolina Central 89-42 on Wednesday night in the 2K Sports Classic, his second double-figure scoring output in as many games to open the season.
Deon Thompson scored 13 for the Tar Heels (2-0), who broke it open with 21 straight first-half points. North Carolina shot 69 percent in the opening half and 59 percent for the game, dominating the transitional Division I Eagles from nearby Durham in the first meeting between the schools.
North Carolina, which beat Florida International in Isiah Thomas' college coaching debut Monday night, will step out of the Classic to benefit Coaches vs. Cancer with a weekend home game against Valparaiso on Sunday, then travel to New York to face Ohio State in the event next week.
And while both victories have come against overmatched teams, they offered at least one benefit for coach Roy Williams: some on-court proof that Ginyard has recovered from the stress fracture in his left foot, which required surgery and limited him to three games last year.
Not to mention the fact that Ginyard's offseason work on his jump shot has paid off.
"When he shoots it now, I think it's going in. I really do," Williams said. "I like that it's got great spin. He gets it up in the air. It's not flat and it's going to land softly, so I do expect that he'll be more of a scorer. But I want him to be Marcus Ginyard, and then whatever he scores will be fine."
Ginyard finished 7 for 10 from the field to go with two rebounds, three assists and three steals in 23 minutes. He had 12 points in the opener, one of only a handful of times he's had consecutive double-figure scoring games in his career. Then again, he never had to before with guys like Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson around to take all the shots.
Instead, the 6-foot-5 Ginyard was the guy content to do all the little things. He started all 39 games during the Tar Heels' Final Four season in 2008, versatile enough to play four positions due to injuries and foul trouble, and tough enough to be the team's top perimeter defender and its unquestioned leader.
Now, with Hansbrough and his high-scoring teammates gone, Ginyard is being more aggressive on offense.
"I'm just really trying to get outside of being labeled," he said. "Everybody I guess wants to label you as one thing and I just want to be a player -- do anything I can and everything I can."
Ginyard had one notably impressive stretch during the 21-0 run, first knocking down a jumper off a kickout pass from Ed Davis, then stealing the ball for a transition dunk. He followed that with another dunk off a turnover, then assisted on Leslie McDonald's transition layup before scoring on his own layup to end the run and make it 40-17 with 4:25 left before halftime.
The game marked the coaching debut for LeVelle Moton at Central, where he ranked third on the school's career scoring list. C.J. Wilkerson led the Eagles (0-1) with 16 points, though they shot just 26 percent.
Overall, the Tar Heels did the expected to the Eagles, dominating the boards (46-24) with their bigger front line and showing more signs of the defensive improvement Williams has said this group has the potential to make. In fact, after the Eagles started 7 for 10 from the field to trail just 19-17 with 12 1/2 minutes left until halftime, North Carolina stepped up its pressure and held them without a point for more than 8 minutes.
N.C. Central managed just one field goal the rest of the half and trailed 51-20 at the break.
"I think once they went out on the floor and got a couple of runs, we got out of whack and we stopped moving as hard and stopped setting the proper screens," Moton said. "And from that point on, it was turmoil."