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UNC plays much better but lineup change much ado about nothing

Coach Roy Williams.

Coach Roy Williams.

The Tar Heels certainly played with more energy and aggressiveness in a strong 78-56 whipping of UCLA.

Carolina had 13 steals and did a better job of guarding the three-pointer. Perhaps Butler, who scored nine threes, is a better three-point shooting team but UNC held UCLA to one of 14 from beyond the arc.

With only normal starters Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson in the opening lineup, the Tar Heels responded. But while new starters Isiah Hicks and Nate Britt did well during the game, the Tar Heels trailed 16-9 after the first six minutes.

Switching up the starting lineup can energize the benched players – Tokoto, Johnson and Meeks – going forward. While it might hurt their feelings a bit, the three ended up playing more minutes than the starters.

Starting isn’t really that important on a team as deep as Carolina (10 players played at least 10 minutes). But eventually some players will start seeing less playing time as Coach Roy Williams settles in on maybe eight main players.

To read the game story, please click here.

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Carolina releases statement after players damage Duke locker room

Bubba Cunningham.

Bubba Cunningham.

UNC football coach Larry Fedora and athletics director Bubba Cunningham issued a joint statement regarding the Tar Heels football team damaging the Duke visiting locker room.

“We would like to apologize to the Duke Football program and Duke University for some inappropriate actions after last Thursday night’s game in Durham. Our team took the celebration too far when they were painting the bell, resulting in damage to some of the facilities at Duke. We take full responsibility for our actions and will be paying for all costs associated with the cleanup. We view this as a rivalry built on mutual respect and we expect our players to behave better in a way that is more befitting of the rivalry.”

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Three Tar Heels selected as football players of the week

Landon Turner.

Landon Turner.

North Carolina led the way with three selections as the Atlantic Coast Conference announced its Football Players of the Week on Monday.

North Carolina junior quarterback Marquise Williams was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week for the second straight week and fourth time this season after leading the Tar Heels’ 45-20 win at No. 25 Duke. UNC junior Landon Turner was recognized as the Offensive Lineman of the Week, while freshman Nazair Jones earned Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.

OFFENSIVE BACK – Marquise Williams, North Carolina, Jr., QB, 6-2, 220, Charlotte, N.C.

Williams accounted for four touchdowns and had 374 total yards of offense in UNC’s 45-20 win at No. 25 Duke. Williams completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 276 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 21 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

During the Duke game, Williams eclipsed the UNC single-season record for total offense and now has 3,499 total yards. He also set the UNC single-season record for most touchdown responsibility with 32.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Landon Turner, North Carolina, Jr., OG, 6-4, 315, Harrisonburg, Va.

Turner graded out at a career-best 96 percent and was UNC’s top performer in the win at No. 25 Duke. He helped the Tar Heels rush for 315 yards, their highest total since 2012. UNC had three players rush for 95 yards or more, including tailback T.J. Logan’s season-high 116 yards. Turner posted 15 knockdown blocks and did not allow any sacks or any pressures on UNC’s quarterbacks.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Nazair Jones, North Carolina, Fr., DT, 6-5, 280, Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

Jones helped lead a defensive unit that played its best game of the season in UNC’s 45-20 win at No. 25 Duke. Jones had 2.5 tackles for loss, forced a fumble, batted down a pass and had a team-high six tackles.

He forced a first-quarter fumble which was scooped up by teammate Tim Scott and returned for a touchdown. Jones and the Tar Heels held Duke to just 67 yards in the first half in building a 28-7 lead.

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UNC’s Mavunga named ACC women’s basketball player of week

Stephanie Mavunga.

Stephanie Mavunga.

North Carolina sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week.

Mavunga led the Tar Heels to a pair of wins last week, including a 79-77 victory over No. 21/19 Oklahoma State on Nov. 19. The sophomore from Brownsburg, Indiana, averaged 20.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.0 blocks, while collecting back-to-back double-doubles.

Mavunga set a career-high with 16 rebounds and six blocks in North Carolina’s 76-59 win at Oregon on Nov. 23, while her 23 points against the Ducks was just one shy of a career best mark.

Against the Cowgirls, Mavunga hit the game-winning bucket with four seconds left. It is Mavunga’s first ACC Player of the Week nod after collecting ACC Freshman of the Week honors last season on Nov. 24, 2013.

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Defiant Williams intends to coach UNC for 6-10 more years

UNC coach Roy Williams brushed aside a question from the media about the possibility of losing his job and told the Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday that he intends to remain the Tar Heels coach for years to come. “It is a thrill to be here,” Williams told the group. “It’s not a thrill to walk in and see the nice people in the media doing their job, and the first […]

UNC coach Roy Williams brushed aside a question from the media about the possibility of losing his job and told the Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday that he intends to remain the Tar Heels coach for years to come.

“It is a thrill to be here,” Williams told the group. “It’s not a thrill to walk in and see the nice people in the media doing their job, and the first question asked is ‘do you think you’re going to lose your job?’ That’s not the nicest thing that has ever happened to me but that’s the world we live in right now.”

Williams said that even after years in Kansas, he always knew he’d end up back in his home state of North Carolina. “Hopefully I’m going to last another six to 10 years regardless of what some people in the media say,” he said.

Roy Williams.

Roy Williams.

Williams has been on the hot seat from those who believe he knew about the academic transgressions involving his players, that he was in on it or that he suspected but didn’t want to find out.

While not admitting to any of those things, Williams conceded that mistakes were made at Carolina.

“We screwed it up,” he said, speaking in general terms about the University. “We made some mistakes, there’s no question about that. Things happened that are so sad and that hurt. It’s unbelievable.”

He said the school is taking actions to correct the errors.

“We’ve had over 20 people lose their jobs,” Williams said. “We’ve made more changes than you can ever imagine.”

He indicated that change isn’t easy. “Now when I decide where I’m going to take the team for a pre-game meal, I check with 12 different committees and all 12 disciples of the Lord,” Williams said. “But change is good sometimes too. We needed to make some changes.”

He said he’s proud of the University of North Carolina. “I’m not happy about what happened,” Williams said. “I’m very sad, very mad about what happened. But I have a wonderful degree from there, as do some of you. I worked for mine and most of our guys did.”

Williams cut out to get to practice and no doubt avoid media after WTVD's Tamara Gibbs "ambushed" him on the way in to speak to the Raleigh Sports Club.

Williams cut out to get to practice and no doubt avoid media after WTVD’s Tamara Gibbs “ambushed” him on the way in to speak to the Raleigh Sports Club.

He said he doesn’t know everything that went on but “we’re going to keep fighting.” A Western movie fan, Williams said he could have used John Wayne and Clint Eastwood fighting on his team over the last couple of months.

He related a scene from Rio Bravo where a character played by actor Jack Elam is being criticized by John Wayne in the middle of a gunfight for the weapon he’s using. “You know what Jack Elam said?” Williams asked. “He looked up at him and said, ‘don’t mind if I shoot do ya?’ That’s what the dickens I’m gonna do – if you don’t mind I’m gonna coach my butt off for a long time.”

While defiant, he admits to this being a very difficult time for him. On top of the academic revelations, his wife has had a couple of recent surgeries and a good friend is battling pancreatic cancer. Plus, with the criticisms aimed at his character, he felt the need to address the situation with his children.

“It’s been the most difficult time for me by far,” he said. “Until recently, I’ve never really had to talk to my children and tell them, ‘your dad is the same dad he’s always been. He’s got the same values he’s always had and that’s never going to change.’”

The Raleigh Sports Club meeting was packed to hear UNC coach Roy Williams.

The Raleigh Sports Club meeting was packed to hear UNC coach Roy Williams.

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It’s Duke-Carolina football week but on Thursday night

dukecarolinafootballJust five days after evening its record at 5-5 with an exciting come-from-behind victory over Pitt, North Carolina travels to Durham to face the Blue Devils, who suffered a heartbreaking loss to Virginia Tech.

The Thursday, Nov. 20 game will be televised by ESPN and will kickoff at 7:45 p.m. from Wallace Wade Stadium.

Blue Devils still control their own fate as they try to capture another Coastal Division title and a trip to the Dr Pepper ACC Championship game in Charlotte.

Georgia Tech has finished their ACC campaign with a 6-2 conference record. If the Blue Devils win their next two games (North Carolina and Wake Forest) they will be the Coastal Division champions since they beat Tech in Atlanta in October.

It’s now time to put the Virginia Tech loss behind them and get ready for the job at hand.

At the end of the day, you have to get ready for North Carolina, especially on the short week,” said David Helton, Duke linebacker. “I think it might be a good thing that we have a game so soon, because it’s going to force us to really get our minds on our next game.”

Duke coach David Cutcliffe said he’s not sure how the team will respond. “It’s not just players, all of us as coaches will have the same challenge,” Cutcliffe said. “We’ve got to pick ourselves up and respond. We have no choice. We’re playing a North Carolina team that is a really good football team and we knew that before this game. Win or lose we knew that was the case. So we better just go get ourselves ready.”

The Tar Heels (5-5 overall, 3-3 ACC) are looking to end a two-game losing streak to Duke, which enters the game tied atop the ACC Coastal Division standings. The Tar Heels are one win away from bowl eligibility. UNC’s final two games come against its biggest rivals at Duke and home against NC State (Nov. 29).

Quarterback Marquise Williams leads the league’s third-highest scoring offense, which is averaging 35.9 points per game.
Williams ranks second in the league in total offense and is pushing for All-ACC honors.

Duke saw its four-game win streak come to a halt with a 17-16 loss at home to Virginia Tech last Saturday.

QUICK HITS
* With a win over Duke, Carolina will be bowl eligible for the second consecutive season and
sixth time in the last seven years.

*Carolina has won 11 of its last 12 games in Durham. The Tar Heels have won 21 of the last 24
against the Blue Devils, but have dropped the last two.

*QB Marquise Williams is second in the league in total offense, second in passing, fourth in scoring TDs and seventh in rushing.

*Carolina has scored 40 or more points in three of the last five games. The Tar Heels are third in
the ACC and 24th in the country averaging 35.9 points per game.

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Wolfpack, Tar Heels cross country teams qualify for national championships

crosscountry2The Atlantic Coast Conference will be well represented at this weekend’s NCAA Cross Country Championships, with eight women’s teams and four men’s teams participating. The championships are set for Saturday, Nov. 22, at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind.

Syracuse and Virginia earned automatic berths to the men’s championship after claiming regional titles while Florida State and North Carolina also earned berths in the 31-team field.

The Orange, led by top-10 finishers Martin Hehir (6th), Joel Hubbard (7th) and Dan Lennon (8th), captured the Northeast Regional by three points over Providence. The Cavaliers were paced by top-15 finishers Adam Visokay (6th), Kyle King (7th) and Zach Herriott (11th) en route to claiming the Southeast Regional title by a four-point margin over Furman.

NC State’s Sam Parsons qualified automatically as an individual based on his fourth place finish in the Southeast regional.

An NCAA-best eight ACC teams secured berths in the women’s championship following their regional performances. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 were tied for second with five teams each in the NCAA championship.

ACC teams qualifying for the women’s championship are Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech. The Seminoles, led by individual champion Colleen Quigley, finished second at the South Regional while North Carolina, paced by individual champion Anne LeHardy, placed third at the Southeast Regional.

The NCAA Championships will be hosted by Indiana State on Nov. 23 at the Wabash Valley Family Sports Center in Terre Haute, Ind. The men’s race will begin at noon ET, followed by the women’s race at approximately 1:15 p.m.

2014 NCAA Championship Team Qualifiers

Women (8)

Boston College+
Florida State*
North Carolina+
NC State+
Notre Dame+
Syracuse+
Virginia*
Virginia Tech+

Men (4)

Florida State*
Syracuse*
Virginia*
North Carolina+

*Automatic Team Qualifiers
+At-Large Team Qualifiers

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UNC tailback Khris Francis out for the season

Khris Francis.

Khris Francis.

An MRI has confirmed that North Carolina sophomore tailback Khris Francis tore the ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee in the Tar Heels’ win over Pitt Saturday afternoon. Francis, a native of Durham, suffered the injury in the second quarter.

A surgery date has not yet been been determined.

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UNC’s Williams to speak and answer questions at Raleigh Sports Club

Roy Williams.

Roy Williams.

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams, embattled over academic violations involving some of his former players at North Carolina, will speak at the Raleigh Sports Club Wednesday, Nov. 19, and will be available to answer questions.

The club meets at Bradley Hall in Highland United Methodist Church at 1901 Ridge Road. Buffet lines open at 11:30 a.m. and the meeting is from noon until 1 p.m. Attendance fee for members is $15 while guest fee is $25.       

David Reynolds, a basketball player at Ravenscroft School, will be honored as the RSC’s Student Athlete of the Week.

The annual membership fee is $70, which helps to fund the club’s scholarship fund. Each week from late August to early April meetings include a Southern buffet, door prizes, pick sheets and introduction to a deserving Student Athlete as well as hearing from a prominent sports figure as our guest speaker.
Raleigh Sports Club Membership Form

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Heels open season with a bland win

Brice Johnson.

Brice Johnson.

After all the non-basketball talk, UNC must at least be happy to talk about on-the-court problems now.

North Carolina jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the season opener and used balanced scoring in an overall uninspiring 76-60 over NC Central in Chapel Hill.

“It’s a ‘W,’” UNC coach Roy Williams said blandly. “Not the prettiest thing in the world but Coach (Levelle) Moton’s bunch did some good things.”

NCCU went to the zone and bottled up UNC guard Marcus Paige, who was chosen by ACC media as the preseason player of the year, with a box in one. Paige finished with just eight points on a 2 for 8 performance from the field.

The Tar Heels, who led by as many as 14 points in the first half, had their lead cut to nine at 28-19 at the half.

Carolina started hot in the second half, extending the lead to 36-20 on a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays by freshman starter Justin Jackson and Isiah Hicks, along with a baseline jumper by JP Tokoto.

For more, please click here.