CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Rashad McCants and North Carolina may have had other things on their minds than basketball.
McCants scored 14 points as the eighth-ranked Tar Heels tuned up for Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 64-53 victory over Akron.
North Carolina (6-0) had just two full practices this past week due to exams and turned in a poor shooting effort. The Tar Heels struggled to make 4-of-21 from the arc and had trouble shaking the pesky Zips.
"We didn't play basketball the way we're capable of playing," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "We didn't have any intensity. We didn't have the concentration."
But a strong defensive effort was the key as North Carolina limited Akron star Derrick Tarver to seven points on 3-of-16 shooting. Tarver entered averaging nearly 25 points per game.
Sean May added 10 points and a Dean Smith Center-record 21 rebounds for North Carolina, which is 6-0 for the first time since an 8-0 start to the 1998-99 campaign. May's effort helped the Tar Heels to a 53-40 edge on the glass.
The Tar Heels play their conference opener on Saturday when they host unbeaten Wake Forest, the defending regular-season ACC champion.
"I'm just going to come out and play hard and get ready for our big game on Saturday against Wake Forest," North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton said. "If we play like we played today, we're going to get beat by 50 points."
Jawad Williams netted 13 points and Felton, who missed most of practice this week with a strained right Achilles tendon, added 12 and seven rebounds. The Tar Heels shot a season-low 30 percent (21-of-69), including a combined 6-of-32 effort from McCants and May.
"Coach said I was rushing a little bit and I wasn't trying to hump my shoots and I just couldn't hit anything," said May, who was 3-of-18 from the floor.. "My teammates realize that I am a big part of this team and they tried to get me the ball more because they knew that I was a little bit frustrated, but I just couldn't come through."
North Carolina scored the first six points and bolted to an early 11-2 advantage. The Tar Heels scored the final five points of the half for a 32-26 cushion.
May's layup with just under 15 minutes to go gave North Carolina a 43-29 advantage, before Akron fought back. The Zips crept within 46-41 on Matt Futch's basket, before Felton made a 3-pointer and McCants added a jumper for a 10-point advantage with 7:28 left.
"It comes down to one of those things to where we just weren't hitting any shots," McCants said.
The Tar Heels came up with 10 steals and harassed the Zips into 37.5 percent (24-of-64) shooting. Akron finished with 17 turnovers.
Freshman Romeo Travis, a high school teammate last year of LeBron James, netted 13 points off the bench to lead Akron ande Rick McFadden fouled out with 12 points.