CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Roy Williams kept saying that he had a good shooting team, that North Carolina would knock down more 3-pointers sooner or later. On Sunday, at least, the seventh-ranked Tar Heels proved their Hall of Fame head coach right.
Harrison Barnes scored 23 points and North Carolina hit 10 3-pointers in a 93-81 victory over Georgia Tech on Sunday that ended a four-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets.
Tyler Zeller added 17 points for the Tar Heels, who have won 12 of 13 games and extended their school-record home winning streak to 31 games. North Carolina (18-3, 5-1 ACC) shot 54 percent, led by 20 points at halftime and by 24 in the second half of an easy win that moved the Tar Heels into a tie with Duke and Florida State atop the ACC standings.
John Henson had 13 points and Reggie Bullock added 11 for the Tar Heels, while Kendall Marshall had 12 assists.
The outside shooting was the most obvious development on a day when the Tar Heels otherwise coasted against an overmatched team. They hit 10-of-16 shots from behind the arc, their best total in a conference game and one off a season high.
“We’re good shooters. I mean, we really are,” Williams said. “We make a bunch of them in practice all the time. I’ve said the whole time I thought that. ... I believe I said ‘when’ we started making (shots), I don’t believe I said ‘if.’ ”
Barnes hit all three of his 3-point tries, while Bullock went 3-for-6 on the way to 11 points in his second straight start. Freshman P.J. Hairston added two more 3s against the Yellow Jackets (8-13, 1-6).
This from a team that was shooting just 25 percent on 3s in ACC games. North Carolina hadn’t made more than five 3s in a conference game this season, including a 2-for-16 performance against Miami and a 4-for-21 showing in the 33-point loss at Florida State.
“We just concentrated on our shots and just were able to knock shots down,” Bullock said. “With Kendall looking up the floor, he tells us just run to our spots and he’s going to find us. We just got our feet set and followed through.”
The Tar Heels hit five 3s in the first 10 minutes and 8-of-12 in the first half. Marshall had six assists on 3s in that half, including crosscourt passes to set up 3s by Bullock and Hairston.
“They were wide-open shots,” Marshall said. “I don’t think we took many contested shots in the first half. It all started with getting stops on the defensive end and when we have the advantage of going down there (in transition) and them having to make a choice of if they want to stop me, stop the bigs or stop the wings -- and they kept leaving the wings open.”
First-year Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory agreed with that assessment, particularly about failing to defend in transition.
“When you have Barnes, when you have Bullock, when you have Hairston coming off the bench, those guys can all shoot the 3 pretty well,” Gregory said. “They’re not a bad shooting team, but you have to do a little better job of defending them.”
Mfon Udofia scored 16 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, but leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. had just four points on 2-for-7 shooting while hobbled by a toe injury suffered in a recent practice.
The Yellow Jackets have lost five straight games and nine of 10. North Carolina shot 60 percent in the opening half, while its 93 points and 10 3s were the most allowed by Georgia Tech all season.
“They just had momentum throughout the whole game,” Udofia said.
North Carolina hadn’t beaten Georgia Tech in nearly three years. The Tar Heels lost three times to Georgia Tech in 2009-10 and by 20 points in Atlanta last year, although that outcome marked a turning point as the Tar Heels went on to win the ACC regular-season title and get within a game of the Final Four.
The four-game losing streak was the longest for UNC in the 84-year history of the series.
The UNC players wore pink-trimmed shoes as part of the weekend’s Coaches vs. Cancer awareness weekend, although Barnes and Zeller changed out of theirs by the start of the second half.