Despite 36 points from Russ Smith, the No. 2/3 Louisville Cardinals fell 93-84 to No. 24 North Carolina Sunday in Uncasville, N.C. in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Championship.
"We played better today than we have all season long," UNC coach Roy Williams said.
North Carolina took advantage of gaping holes in Louisville's interior defense, and UofL's bad transition defense for easy buckets throughout the game.
Louisville led by as many as nine points in the first half, but North Carolina continued to score easily against Louisville's typically stingy defense.
The Tarheels finished the first half shooting better than 50 percent with several easy baskets in transition.
After a pair of free throws from Russ Smith and a last-second three by UNC's Marcus Paige, the teams went into halftime tied at 44. Smith had 22 points in the first half.
Smith's red hot start didn't continue in the second half as he only scored two points in the first eight minutes. Louisville's offense sputtered without Smith's scoring, and the Cardinals trailed 70-58 midway through the second half.
Louisville trailed by as many as 16 in the second half. They cut the lead to 83-73 with just over five minutes left, but UNC still led by 13 with just under three minutes left. Louisville cut the margin to nine points later in the game, but couldn't close within striking distance.
North Carolina was led in scoring by Marcus Paige who finished with 32 points. The Tarheels shot 54 percent from the field and beat Louisville down the court for easy points.