Cole Anthony wasn’t nearly as hot Friday night as he was in North Carolina’s season opener.
But it didn’t matter. He had help.
Graduate transfer Justin Pierce scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and UNC beat UNC-Wilmington, 78-62, at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.
The ninth-ranked Tar Heels are now 2-0 on the season.
Anthony put the country on notice with his 34-point, 11-rebound performance against Notre Dame on Wednesday. It was the most points by a Tar Heel freshman in his debut. But against UNCW on Friday, he struggled with his shot.
He was 7 for 24 from the floor and finished with a game-high 20 points. Despite his tough shooting night, Anthony played well. He recorded his second double-double in as many games. He had 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was also 4 for 11 from behind the 3-point line.
UNCW got off to a hot start. The Seahawks led the Tar Heels 18-16 through the first nine minutes of the game. The Tar Heels shot it poorly from the floor, and had trouble getting anything going.
But Pierce, who transferred from William & Mary in the spring, provided a spark early.
He made five of his first six shots, and his first three 3-pointers. His 3-pointer with 7:45 left in the first half gave the Tar Heels are 30-21 lead, capping a 14-3 run.
That was all the Tar Heels really needed. They led 40-29 at halftime.
The Seahawks cut the Tar Heels’ lead to eight points with a little more than 15 minutes left, but Pierce quickly answered with another 3-pointer to give UNC a 49-38 lead.
After that, UNCW never got closer than nine points. Junior Garrison Brooks also had one of the best games of his career. He finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Tar Heels’ next game is at home against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 15.
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