Before heading to Maui, No. 5 North Carolina survived a test in Manoa in an 83-68 win over Hawaii tonight at a sold-out Stan Sheriff Center.
Heavy underdogs, the Rainbow Warriors (2-2) stayed within sight of the Tar Heels (4-0) deep into the second half before a turnstile crowd of 9,211. UH closed to within eight with 5:56 left, but the Tar Heels broke away with an 8-0 run and held on to improve to 4-0.
North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks scored 16 points to lead the Tar Heels, who open play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Monday. Guard Nate Britt and forward Kennedy Meeks added 13 points each and forward Justin Jackson finished with 11.
Hawaii senior Noah Allen led three UH players in double figures with 22 points on 10-for-17 shooting from the field. Jack Purchase finished with 14 points and guard Sheriff Drammeh added 13.
Allen gave UH its lone lead with a layup two minutes into the game and North Carolina opened up a 30-18 lead on Hicks’ dunk with 4:48 left in the first half. The Rainbows responded with a 9-0 run and closed to 30-27 when Purchase hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 2:29 left.
The Tar Heels scored the final five points of the half and took a closer-than-expected 35-27 lead into halftime. UNC grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, contributing to 17 second-chance points.
UH closed to three again at 40-37 early in the second half, but North Carolina broke away with a 12-2 spurt and led 52-39 when Kenny Williams drilled a 3-pointer at the 13:25 mark.
The Tar Heels stretched the lead to 15, but UH chipped away again and closed to 64-56 on a Drammeh 3-pointer with 6:23 left.
But Britt and Jackson hit 3-pointers in North Carolina’s 8-0 run that gave the Tar Heels a 74-58 lead and UNC remained in control to the final buzzer.
UH next faces UH Hilo on Tuesday at the Sheriff Center.