Bill Guthridge admitted he even made a slight adjustment Friday night without Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter on the court.
"It was different, wasn't it?"
Or rather non-existent. Guthridge pretty much stuck with a six-man rotation last season, but against the Mountaineers, he substituted freely with only three players logging 31 or more minutes.
"As you can see we're still trying to find some combinations," he said. "We would like to get eight or nine players that are in there. I certainly haven't settled on a starting lineup."
Brendan Haywood scored a career-high 19 points as the Tar Heels improved to 84-5 in home openers.
"It's early in the year and I'm pleased with the way things are going," said Appalachian State coach Buzz Peterson - Michael Jordan's college roommate at North Carolina. "We just can't get our heads down.
"Everybody talks about Carolina being young, but they're young and have talented guys. "I just think it's a matter of time. They are going to be a strong team come January."
The Mountaineers, whose 21 victories a season ago were the most by the Southern Conference school in 20 years, fell to 3-50 against Atlantic Coast Conference teams.
North Carolina, missing 73 percent of its offense without NBA lottery picks Jamison and Carter, also got 17 points from Ed Cota, who matched his career high.
Marshall Phillips led the Mountaineers with 18 points.
The 7-foot 270-pound Haywood, the seventh man on last year's Final Four team that went 34-4, scored 11 of North Carolina's first 13 points on layups and dunks, easily surpassing his career high of eight points in the game's opening five minutes.
Haywood didn't miss a shot in six attempts en route to a 17-point first half as the Tar Heels built an 11-point lead.
It was Cota, the team's point guard, who helped the Tar Heels fend off Appalachian State in the second half.
The Mountaineers closed to 44-37 with 16 minutes left before Cota sank a 3-pointer, hit a runner in the lane, fed Ademola Okulaja for a three-point play and added two free throws as the Tar Heels opened a 60-42 lead.
"I knew I could score and at that point I took some open shots and tried to penetrate more," Cota said. "Overall, I was playing passive, just trying to come up court, run the plays and get everybody involved."
Cota also scored 17 points in December 1997 against Florida State.
North Carolina started four players 6-foot-8 or taller, including freshmen Jason Capel and Kris Lang. It marked only the second time in school history that two freshman opened the season in the starting lineup. The other time occurred in 1995-96 when Jamison and Carter started.
Lang started in place of Vasco Evtimov, was held out of the game while the school and the NCAA review his eligibility. Lang scored 15 points in 22 minutes, while Capel added seven points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
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