By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Tennessee Tech men's basketball team took on one of the nation's best Friday evening, and No. 7 North Carolina showed just why it had earned a top-10 national ranking heading into the week, defeating the Golden Eagles 108-58 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Keys to the contest, as they have been so far this season, were rebounding and turnovers. The Tar Heels (4-0) beat the Golden Eagles (0-4) on the glass, 54-24, including an 18-9 mark on the offensive end. Carolina also forced the Tech squad into 22 turnovers on the night.
Those two factors, compounded with a spectacular shooting night from the floor were enough for the nation's No. 7 ranked team to gather its third double-digit victory of the season. UNC shot 55.4 percent from the field, despite Tech holding the home team to just 21.7 percent from downtown.
The Tar Heels held the Golden Eagles to 35.9 percent shooting from the floor 16.0 percent efficiency from beyond the 3-point arc.
"Rebounding," Tech head coach Steve Payne responded when asked what he hoped to see from his team heading into the game. "We've been struggling rebounding and taking care of the basketball. We really wanted to see improvement on that. I think we had some good moments, and they are awfully good. For us to make this game close, we had to make some shots and we didn't."
Despite the tough loss, there were moments throughout the contest that showed plenty of promise for the young Golden Eagle squad.
After being limited to just four field goal attempts and five total points in the first half, senior Micaiah Henry made his presence felt over the final 20 minutes. Playing the entire second stanza, the Tech big man dropped 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting while snagging four rebounds.
Henry finished the evening with an even 20 points, his third 20-point outing of the season and his career. He blocked two more shots and corralled five total boards.
Showing no fear as he attacked the lane and the basket, freshman Jr. Clay marked Tech's other double-digit scorer on the night. The point guard tallied 10 points and two assists while hitting all four of his free throw attempts. He also recorded two steals.
The Golden Eagles wrap up their three-game road trip Sunday evening, making a visit to No. 11 Michigan State. Tech and the Spartans will square off in East Lansing at 5:00 p.m. CT.