Chapel Hill, N.C. - The Tennessee State University Tigers held their own in the first half, trailing by 13, but No. 1 North Carolina came out firing in the second half and picked up a 102-69 win over the Tigers at the Dean E. Smith Center on Tuesday evening.
The Tigers (2-3) shot 39 percent (28-of-71), but the top-ranked Tar Heels (4-0) made 62 percent (41-of-66) of their shots to win the second round of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.
Four Tigers reached double figures including forward Kellen Thornton with a season and team high 15 points.
Kenny Moore added 14 points and two rebounds. Four of Moore's five made field goals were from 3-point range, just one make shy of his career-high.
Reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week Robert Covington posted 11 points, three assists two rebounds and a steal.
Guard Patrick Miller was 4-of-8 from the field with 10 points, four assists and three rebounds.
In the first five minutes of action, the Tigers connected on three 3-pointers and led by four. Covington had two of TSU's first three treys.
UNC then exploded adding 12 points inside the paint to take a 19-13 lead with 14:55 left in the half.
The Tar Heels connected on 11 of their first 16 attempts for 69 percent to open to a 28-17 advantage. Thornton knocked down four of five opportunities to manage eight points in the span of five minutes.
Thornton drained a triple and added a layup inside to cut TSU's deficit to eight with 7:31 remaining.
TSU's 42 points was the most against a North Carolina opponent so far this season in the first half.
UNC took a 55-42 lead into the locker room with the Tigers shooting 45 percent (17-of-38). The Tar Heels shot lights out, making 23-of-36 shots from the field for 64 percent.
In the second half, the Tigers started off cold making just one field goal in their first attempts. Carolina continued their hot shooting, going on a 14-to-3 run extending the lead to 75-52 with 11:56 left.
TSU added 13 more points down the stretch before reaching 69, a season-best performance against a Division I opponent. The Tigers were out-rebounded 43-to-29 as UNC dished out 32 assists. The Tigers recorded a season-best 19 assists with a season-low 12 turnovers.
Redshirt freshman M.J. Rhett was surprised in the locker room before the game by his mother, who flew in from Iraq earlier today. E-5 Sargent Stefanie Rhett serves in the Army National Guard and is currently deployed. She was given a standing ovation by the North Carolina fans at halftime when the video from ESPN was played on the video board.
TSU continues the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday with Mississippi Valley State at the Orleans Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (CT).
-- TSU TIGERS --