James Michael McAdoo recorded a double- double with 26 points and 14 rebounds, as the 11th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels opened the season with a 76-59 victory over the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs.
Dexter Strickland added 13 points for the Tar Heels (1-0), who lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season.
"Everyone is saying that we're the underdog. They don't think that we'll be as successful as we were last year because we lost so many guys," Strickland said. "I think this was for us to set a statement; for us to go out there and punch them in the mouth first before they do that to us."
Donta Harper and Max Landis ended with 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs (0-1), who went 12-20 last season. Mike Byron tallied 10 points.
Holding a 22-19 lead with about nine minutes left in the first half, North Carolina went on a 16-5 run. McAdoo tallied eight points during the surge that Strickland capped with a jumper for a 38-24 lead.
Kevin Hartley stopped the burst with a jumper to make it a 38-26 game at the half.
Gardner-Webb managed to hang around for most of the second half, but the Tar Heels pulled away late. Holding a 63-54 lead with five minutes to play, North Carolina went on a 13-3 run.
"I thought they (North Carolina) were terrific with their activity on the glass," Gardner-Webb coach Chris Holtmann said. "That was obviously a point of emphasis coming in for us. I think they are such a well coached team, I know they are young but they are so well coached in what they do."
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Gardner-Webb, 4-0 ... The Tar Heels put together a fantastic season in Roy Williams' ninth year as head coach in 2011-12, going 32-6 overall and winning the ACC regular season championship outright with a 14-2 conference mark. However, North Carolina lost the ACC Tournament title tilt to Florida State ... North Carolina improved to 96-7 all-time in home openers ... Gardner-Webb fell to 1-9 in its NCAA Division I history when playing against ranked teams.