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Zeller and North Carolina cruise past App State

Dec 18, 2011 - 3:36 AM Chapel Hill, NC (Sports Network) - Tyler Zeller netted a season-high 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as fifth-ranked North Carolina topped Appalachian State, 97-82, at the Smith Center.

John Henson recorded 17 points, while Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston each scored 10 for the Tar Heels (9-2), who won their 22nd consecutive home game and their 52nd home contest in a row against non-conference opponents.

"Tonight, he had to get better. We have to be more crisp," Zeller said. "There were times where we played very, very well, and times where we played very poorly. It's something where we have to get in a rhythm and keep that up for 40 minutes."

Second-year Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel, who played at UNC from 1998-2002, saw his team fall behind by 16 at halftime. The Mountaineers never got within single digits in the second half.

"I was a little nervous," Capel said of his return to Chapel Hill. "I have to say Coach (Roy) Williams took some of that away; he and I shared a moment. I haven't been back here a lot. It was good to come back. It was good to see a lot of faces, people I know, people that meant a lot. It was good to be home."

Omar Carter led ASU (4-6) with 21 points, but had just five in the second half.

Zeller's three-point play opened an 11-2 UNC lead and Henson followed with a dunk to cap a dominating start for the Tar Heels.

Carter's three-pointer cut the margin to 34-30 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half, but the Tar Heels netted the following 12 points. Zeller's three-point play, barely inside of a minute finished the flurry.

Faced with a 48-32 deficit at the half, ASU couldn't mount a rally. Zeller's jumper widened the difference to 69-44 with 13:18 remaining.

Game Notes

Saturday's game was the third in a nine-game homestand for the Tar Heels. UNC's next road game is January 14 at Florida State...North Carolina has won all five meetings against ASU...Kendall Marshall had 13 assists for UNC, which shot 54.5 percent from the field...Mike Neal scored 15 for ASU.