North Carolina used its opening game of the Maui Invitational on Monday night as a glorified scrimmage.
The Tar Heels smashed the Mississippi State Bulldogs 95-49 and are now 4-0 on the season.
It’s not that the Tar Heels won the game that is a surprise. North Carolina is the No. 9 team in the nation and has a history of success.
But what is surprising is how the Tar Heels won. They drilled 15 3-pointers and shot 47.4 percent from the floor. They were in front 49-17 at halftime.
Five players scored in double figures.
“We just had too many players for them — everybody started feeling good and the ball kept going in the basket,” North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said in a post-game press conference.
Leslie McDonald was the leader of the offensive attack and seems poised to do big things this year for the Tar Heels. The junior guard knocked down six shots from beyond the arc, highlighting his 21-point performance.
McDonald didn’t get to play a year ago because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but if he continues to play the way he did Monday night in Maui, opponents are going to dread having to deal with him.
But even if McDonald doesn’t have a big night, someone else will step up. The Tar Heels have a lot of weapons.
P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, James M. McAdoo, Dexter Strickland; Any one of those players can get the job done. Opponents will be forced to pick their poison, not to mention deal with a North Carolina team that can defend as as well as anyone in the nation.
The Tar Heels are going to win a lot of games this year, and until further notice, should be the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Yes, the games will get tougher. Not every night will come as easily as it did on Monday, but one thing is for sure: no one can count on the Tar Heels as a national championship contender.
Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at email@example.com.