CHAPEL HILL (AP) — North Carolina has been pretty good so far at bouncing back from losses. The 14th-ranked Tar Heels just wish they weren’t doing it so often.
Cameron Johnson scored 17 points, Luke Maye had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and North Carolina beat Davidson 82-60 on Saturday.
Kenny Williams added 12 points and Garrison Brooks had 11 to help the Tar Heels (9-3) bounce back from their 80-72 loss to No. 16 Kentucky on Dec. 22 — the first time since 2014 that North Carolina had three losses before Christmas.
“We’ve seen what it looks like when we gave effort on both ends, and seen what it looks like when we don’t, and the result is totally different,” Williams said. “We know we can do it, and I think that’s what we learned. It’s just a matter of us doing it consistently now.”
Freshman Nassir Little finished with 10 for UNC, which shot 44 percent, had just seven turnovers while pulling away in the final 27 minutes and led by 26 in winning its 10th in a row in the instate series.
The Tar Heels closed the first half with a 20-4 run keyed by eight points from Johnson, then methodically stretched their lead into the 20s, going up 52-32 on Coby White’s free throw with 15:29 remaining.
Jon Axel Gudmundsson had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Luke Frampton scored 15 points to lead Davidson (9-4).
The guard-reliant Wildcats have lost their last three games against Division I schools, all without leading scorer Kellen Grady. They shot a season-worst 30 percent and took a season-high 38 3-pointers, making just 26 percent of them — their second-worst percentage of the year.
“We did get terrific shots,” coach Bob McKillop said. “We just didn’t knock them down.”
Davidson: The Wildcats continue to miss Grady, who averages a team-best 19.4 points but missed his fourth straight game with an injury. While they led for much of the first half, they simply didn’t have enough scorers in his absence to keep up with the nation’s fourth-most productive offense, which averages 92.3 points.
“The key to the game was them speeding us up, and they have the capacity to do that,” McKillop said. “They invited us to, sometimes, make the wrong decisions … Getting sped up is something that they capitalize on very well.”
North Carolina: The Tar Heels’ big run to close the first half left them in no danger of their first losing streak of the season. In their three games after defeats, the Tar Heels are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 22 points and none of them closer than 16. Their shooting percentage in each of them was in the mid-to-high 40s.
The play of the game came late in the first half when Williams missed a 3 off the back iron. Little came soaring down the lane for the putback slam that had the Smith Center crowd on its feet for the first time. That put the Tar Heels up 29-26 with 3½ minutes before the break.
White made just one of his seven shots and finished with seven points and seven rebounds. But he also had seven assists — one shy of a season high for the freshman — before he hit that bucket. “It’s not just how many points he scores,” coach Roy Williams said.
It was homecoming for Davidson sophomore Carter Collins, a Chapel Hill native who finished with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. He was 1 of 6 from 3-point range with three turnovers.