- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Nate Britt knew he’d get fewer minutes for No. 9 North Carolina once Marcus Paige returned from a hand injury that had sidelined the senior since preseason.

He’s focused on providing a boost when he’s out there.

Britt matched his career high with 17 points and North Carolina rolled to a huge first-half lead to beat Davidson 98-65 on Sunday.

The junior played just 10 minutes in Paige’s debut earlier this week, tallying five points and three assists in a win against No. 2 Maryland. He played longer stretches with the Tar Heels up huge from the start Sunday, making 6 of 8 shots and 2 of 3 3-pointers in 16 minutes.

“I’ve always felt like I have to be efficient,” Britt said. “I know my role is not to take a bunch of shots on the offensive end. I’m just kind of knocking down open shots and taking whatever is there.”

Justin Jackson added 15 points to help the Tar Heels (7-1), who scored the first 10 points and led by 25 before the break. They shot 51 percent for the game and led by at least 20 points throughout the second half.

Britt led five players in double figures, including Paige (13) and backcourtmate Joel Berry II (11 points).

“My first game back, (Nate’s) minutes were down,” Paige said. “He said he wasn’t worried about it. I talked to him about it and said, ‘No matter how the rotation goes, you’re still a really key part of this team.’”

Davidson had its first 5-0 start since the 1968-69 season and was coming off a 109-74 win against Charlotte in which junior Jack Gibbs scored a career-high 41 points on 14-for-17 shooting.

But Davidson made just 8 of 34 shots (24 percent) and 3 of 16 3-point tries in the opening half as the game quickly got away. Gibbs finished with 19 points on 7-for-20 shooting to lead Davidson, which shot 34 percent.

“North Carolina knocked us on our heels in the opening minutes of the game,” Wildcats coach Bob McKillop said. “They kept us on our heels throughout the game. They overpowered us in transition. They overpowered us on the glass. They created chaos for our offense. They’re a terrific team.”

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TIP-INS

Davidson: Davidson finished 8 of 31 (26 percent) from 3-point range. … Jordan Barham scored 11 points. … Davidson shot 46 percent after halftime.

UNC: Brice Johnson had 13 points and nine rebounds. … Kennedy Meeks had 10 rebounds. … UNC finished with a 52-31 rebounding advantage, 18 second-chance points and 16 points off turnovers.

BELFORD INJURED

Davidson starting forward Jake Belford didn’t play in the second half due to a concussion.

He went down in the paint on a rebound on the final play of the first half and laid on the court for several minutes after both teams left for the locker rooms. He was able to walk off the court with assistance, but McKillop said he was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

3-POINT SHOOTING

One of the biggest questions about UNC, the preseason No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25, was who could help Paige with outside shooting.

That hasn’t been a problem so far. The Tar Heels made 17 3s over the past two games and hit eight more Sunday, the benefits of an offseason spent working on their shooting.

“Just coming in, we knew we were going to be able to have an inside and outside attack,” said Berry, who has a team-high 15 3s.

UP NEXT

Davidson hosts Eastern Washington on Wednesday.

UNC travels to Texas on Saturday.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

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