UNC Archive

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Tar Heels’ season ends amid raining threes

After an even first half, Auburn blitzed North Carolina with 12 three pointers in 18 attempts in the second half to blow past the Tar Heels 97-80 and end their season in disappointing fashion. The Tigers advance to the Elite 8 after sinking 17 total three pointers and scoring 19 points off 14 UNC turnovers. After leading by as many as five points in the first half, Auburn scored six straight in the last minute of the first half to take a 41-39 lead at the break. Surprisingly being outscored in the paint in the first half 24-12, North Carolina […]

After an even first half, Auburn blitzed North Carolina with 12 three pointers in 18 attempts in the second half to blow past the Tar Heels 97-80 and end their season in disappointing fashion.

The Tigers advance to the Elite 8 after sinking 17 total three pointers and scoring 19 points off 14 UNC turnovers.

After leading by as many as five points in the first half, Auburn scored six straight in the last minute of the first half to take a 41-39 lead at the break.

Surprisingly being outscored in the paint in the first half 24-12, North Carolina actually was in good shape down by just two. The Tar Heels have often come out energized in the second half this season and taken control of games.

Instead, Auburn extended its streak. After two Tiger threes and a two in the first minute and a half on the second half to make it 49-39, UNC coach Roy Williams uncharacteristically called a timeout to try to halt the run.

Carolina cut the deficit to six at 60-54 with 13:39 left after senior Luke Maye hit a hook follow.

But Danjel Purifoy came off the Auburn bench to can three three-pointers in just over a minute to stretch the lead out to 73-57 with just under 10 minutes to go.

If that weren’t bad enough, Anfernee McLemore, one of eight different Tigers who hit threes, banked in a wild three to extend the lead to 76-57.

The Tar Heels never got closer than 10 the rest of the way. While Coach Williams refused to use it as an excuse, it must be said that grad senior Cam Johnson, Carolina’s leading scorer, was playing sick as was freshman Nassir Little, who had been Carolina’s best player in the NCAA Tournament.

Coach Williams said that Little, who had two potential dunks blocked, didn’t have the lift he normally has and that Johnson was “just not the same Cam.”

Johnson was throwing up after the game. Both players had fevers earlier in the week.

Nonetheless, Johnson scored 15 points but hit only two of seven three pointers. Freshman Coby White also tallied 15 but he was an even worse zero of seven from beyond the arc. Seniors Luke Maye and Kenny Williams, who was especially distraught when the outcome became obvious, rounded out the double figure scoring with 13 and 10 points.

The Tar Heels end the season 29-7 despite winning 17 of their last 20 games with the other losses coming to teams that were No.1 in the nation at the time – fellow ACC foes Virginia and Duke.

For more on the season finale, including a box score, please click here.

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Maye, Little bust zone as Tar Heels advance

Luke Maye and Nassir Little found holes in the middle of the defense as each scored 20 en route to an 81-59 shellacking of Washington to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies, winners of the Pac-10 regular season, packed into a zone from the start. UNC’s Coby White loosened the zone with four threes over a five-minute period in the first half. And then Maye, Little and others attacked the middle. “The key today was getting it to the middle – that was a soft spot,” said UNC’s Cam Johnson, who had a […]

Luke Maye and Nassir Little found holes in the middle of the defense as each scored 20 en route to an 81-59 shellacking of Washington to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies, winners of the Pac-10 regular season, packed into a zone from the start. UNC’s Coby White loosened the zone with four threes over a five-minute period in the first half. And then Maye, Little and others attacked the middle.

“The key today was getting it to the middle – that was a soft spot,” said UNC’s Cam Johnson, who had a team-high seven assists.

When Maye got it, he tended to turn quickly and hit short or mid-range jumpers. When Little got it, he tended to attack the rim and elevate over the defenders for baskets.

“Luke is an intelligent player who finds the holes in the zone really well,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “Nas is gifted around the basket.”

He said Little uses his quickness, leaping ability and power to cause opponents’ problems. “He can hurt a lot of people inside,” Coach Williams said.

Little, who comes off the bench, got a little more playing time than usual as Garrison Brooks spent several minutes in the locker after getting his mouth busted. He had to have stitches and lost a tooth on a play where the offender wasn’t even charged with a foul.

UNC's Nassir Little elevated over Washington defenders all day. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

UNC’s Nassir Little elevated over Washington defenders all day. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

After Little put in a follow shot, was fouled and hit the free throw, the Heels had their biggest lead of the first half at 34-20.

Carolina led only 41-33 at the half though as the Heels went through a turnover stretch. The Heels had 10 turnovers, including five out of eight possessions at one stretch.

In the second half, the Heels cut the turnovers in half and shot over 50 percent from the field.

The Huskies, who relied heavily on the three-point shot (they had only three two-point field goals in the second half), briefly cut the deficit to five in the first half. But then, the Heels went on a 13-0 run that set the tone for the second half and all but did in Washington.

Johnson started the stretch with a three from the right corner and then hit a baseline jumper. After Maye hit a three, trailing the fastbreak, the Huskies called a timeout. But it didn’t slow the Heels as Brooks bounced an assist to Maye and then Maye hit a 10 footer in the lane.

After White sunk a free throw, Carolin had its biggest lead to that point at 18, 54-36.

It never got closer than 12 from then on out as the Tar Heels worked the lead up to ask many as 25 points.

Joining Little and Maye in double figures were White, who had 17, and Johnson, who had 13.

The Tar Heels, now 29-6, play Auburn Friday evening. Washington, led by Nowell Jaylen’s 12 points, ends the season at 28-7.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Carolina’s big second half buries Iona

North Carolina survived a barrage of three pointers in the first half by quickly erasing a halftime deficit and easing to a 88-73 victory over Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, fell behind by eight points in the first half as Iona drained 10 of 21 threes. “They controlled the clock and shot threes (in the first half),” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “And we didn’t shoot very well.” All that changed in the second half as Coach Williams said his team turned it around by […]

North Carolina survived a barrage of three pointers in the first half by quickly erasing a halftime deficit and easing to a 88-73 victory over Iona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, fell behind by eight points in the first half as Iona drained 10 of 21 threes.

“They controlled the clock and shot threes (in the first half),” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “And we didn’t shoot very well.”

All that changed in the second half as Coach Williams said his team turned it around by playing with more passion and getting lost in the game rather than worrying about the score.

“We guarded them a lot better,” he said. “Didn’t give them the wide open three.”

Down 38-33 at the break, the Tar Heel players said Coach Williams was loud and clear that they were not playing Carolina basketball.

“Their hitting threes took us out of transition opportunities in the first half,” UNC’s Cam Johnson said. “We tied it up pretty quick in the second half and that gave us some momentum.”

A set play to give Johnson a good look opened the second half as he popped in a three. Less than 30 seconds later, Luke Maye tied the game at 38-all.

After Maye looped a pass to Johnson to give the Heels a 42-41 lead with 17:58 to go, Carolina never trailed again.

A 16-4 run put the Heels up 58-45 and they keep the advantage in double figures the rest of the way, working the lead up to 74-54 after Kenny Williams got loose for a three.

Carolina was banking that Iona would cool down from beyond the arc and the Gaels did going just five of 20 in the second half.

After a woeful shooting first half, the Heels shot 64 percent from the floor and kept piling up the rebounds, finishing with a 52-26 advantage.

Five Tar Heels finished in double figures with Johnson leading the way with 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half.

Nassir Little gave Carolina a lift off the bench with 19 points in only 17 minutes. Maye finished with 16 points while Garrison Brooks and Coby White finished with 10 a piece.

The Tar Heels improve to 28-6 and advance to play Washington Sunday afternoon.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Tar Heels come up short against Zion

Well, Zion Williamson did make a difference, just barely. In a back-and-forth contest, North Carolina came up short as Williamson tipped in his own miss with just 30 seconds left and Duke hung on to defeat the Tar Heels 74-73 in the ACC Tournament semi-finals. UNC coach Roy Williams said Williamson put on his Superman jersey to help lead the Devils over the Heels. When Williamson could get the ball down low, he was unstoppable as the freshman finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. But this is Carolina-Duke, not just Carolina-Zion and the Tar Heels led the Devils 71-67 […]

Well, Zion Williamson did make a difference, just barely. In a back-and-forth contest, North Carolina came up short as Williamson tipped in his own miss with just 30 seconds left and Duke hung on to defeat the Tar Heels 74-73 in the ACC Tournament semi-finals.

UNC coach Roy Williams said Williamson put on his Superman jersey to help lead the Devils over the Heels. When Williamson could get the ball down low, he was unstoppable as the freshman finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

But this is Carolina-Duke, not just Carolina-Zion and the Tar Heels led the Devils 71-67 after Luke Maye drove by Williamson, scored and was fouled, completing the three-point play with 2:46 left.

UNC's Luke Maye drives on Duke's Zion Williamson, who reaches in. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

UNC’s Luke Maye drives on Duke’s Zion Williamson, who reaches in.
(UNC Sports Information photo.)

But then Williamson spun down low, scored and drew UNC’s Garrison Brooks’ fifth foul. After the free throw, Duke got within one at 71-70.

The Heels failed to score but seemed to have it back when the ball slipped through Maye’s legs right into the hands of Duke’s Jordan Goldwire under the basket who put it in for a 72-71 Devils lead.

“He came up with a huge bucket – I don’t know how he got it,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Neither team scored on their next possessions but UNC’s Nassir Little picked up a loose ball and dunked it through with 50 seconds left to give Carolina a 73-72 lead.

That’s when Williamson scored on his own miss to give Duke the lead for good. But Carolina had its chances. UNC’s Cam Johnson, who was hot early on, missed a three from the left wing on a shot that looked like it was going to go through with 13 seconds left.

After R.J. Barrett missed a pair of free throws for Duke, Carolina had a chance at the end. Coby White couldn’t find a route to the basket so he heaved up a long two while slipping. Nonetheless it almost went in with a couple of seconds left. Little had a chance at a tip but it wasn’t close and Duke had won, avoiding a third loss to the Tar Heels this season.

“They (Duke) did a good job defensively and we didn’t have a chance to attack the basket,” Coach Williams said.

Johnson said “a couple of little plays made the difference. Our guys fought hard but we could have played better.”

In fact, the Tar Heels were probably lucky to be in it after hitting only four of 27 three-point shots.

“If you go four for 27 from three, you deserve to get beat,” Coach Williams said, adding that you can’t rely on the jumpshot. He said the Tar Heels took bad and quick shots in the first half. “You’d have thought there was a three-second shot clock,” he said.

Carolina had built a 13-point lead in the first half at 33-20, mostly behind the hot hand of Johnson, who had 16 first-half points. But Duke got some stops defensively and Williamson started to take over.

Duke went on a 24-11 run at the end of the first half to tie it 44-all going into the break.

Carolina managed just one field goal in the first seven minutes of the second half to fall behind by six at 52-46. But the Heels came up with three steals and buckets in a row to tie it and force a Duke timeout.

It went back and forth the rest of the way, ending with that final flurry over the last three minutes.

“Our season is not over,” Coach Williams said. “We didn’t play well enough to win.”

For his part, Coach K said it was “vintage ACC Duke-Carolina” and that both teams played hard and well, particularly on defense in the second half.

Both teams went multiple minutes without scoring in the second half.

Joining Williamson in double figures for Duke were Barrett, who had 14 points, and Tre Jones, who had 11. Johnson led the Tar Heels with 23, but went cold in the second half. Maye had yet another double-double as he scored 14 points and hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds. White scored 11 but missed all six of his three-point attempts.

The Tar Heels fall to 27-6 and await its NCAA Tournament bid while Duke, now 28-5, play Florida State for the ACC Tournament crown.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Carolina, survives runs, handles Louisville to advance

North Carolina got big leads, withstood runs and finally put Louisville away late to advance into the ACC Tournament semi-finals after an 83-70 win over the Cardinals. Behind Cam Johnson’s 14 points, the Tar Heels worked the lead up to 13 at 36-21 in the first half but had to withstand a 12-0 Louisville run that took less than two minutes for the Cardinals to accomplish. Up just 34-33, Carolina went on frantic fastbreak barrage to outscore Louisville 11-2 to take a 45-35 halftime lead. The Heels worked the margin back up to 13 when Coby White hit a falling-down, […]

North Carolina got big leads, withstood runs and finally put Louisville away late to advance into the ACC Tournament semi-finals after an 83-70 win over the Cardinals.

Behind Cam Johnson’s 14 points, the Tar Heels worked the lead up to 13 at 36-21 in the first half but had to withstand a 12-0 Louisville run that took less than two minutes for the Cardinals to accomplish.

Up just 34-33, Carolina went on frantic fastbreak barrage to outscore Louisville 11-2 to take a 45-35 halftime lead.

The Heels worked the margin back up to 13 when Coby White hit a falling-down, acrobatic shot and was fouled. After the free throw, Carolina led 52-39.

But once again Louisville cut the lead to six at 58-52. The Heels got the cushion back up to 12 after a Brandon Robinson three from the left side midway through the second half.

The Cardinals got it back down to seven before the Heels went on a game-deciding 11-0 run that pushed the lead to a game-high 18 points at 79-61 with less than five minutes to play.

Sterling Manley, who only spelled Garrison Brooks for a couple of minutes, started the run when Johnson found him open for a dunk. The other highlight of the run was a steal and layup by White. After going up by 18, it never got closer than 11 as the Tar Heels settled for a 13-point victory.

UNC's freshman point guard Coby White was an acrobat all night. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

UNC’s freshman point guard Coby White was an acrobat all night.
(UNC Sports Information photo.)

Luke Maye, who along with White, led the Tar Heels with 19 points, said it was a big team win. “We are clicking on all cylinders now,” he said. “It’s good to see so many guys stepping up for us.”

UNC coach Roy Williams said that as the season has progressed he’s seen his club share the ball better, take better shots and chase opponents off the three-point line.

Coach Williams said he’s happy to be playing the tournament in North Carolina and he’s happy to still be in the tournament.

“I love being in North Carolina and I love being in Charlotte but we were in Charlotte last year (NCAA Tournament) and got our butts kicked,” he said.

“Winning this thing (ACC tourney) is one of our goals but it’s not the biggest one,” he added.

Carolina shot 46 percent from the floor compared to 40 percent for Louisville and the Heels outrebounded the Cardinals 44-35.

Joining White and Maye in double figures for Carolina were Johnson, who had 14 points and Brooks, who had 11 points.

The Tar Heels improve to 27-5. Louisville, led by Dwane Sutton’s 14, falls to 20-13 and has to wait for its NCAA bid.

For a box score, please click here.

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Tar Heels sweep Devils to earn ACC co-title

North Carolina went the last seven minutes without a basket against Duke but still managed to whip the Devils 79-70 for a Senior Night win that tied Virginia for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title. The Tar Heels, trailing 40-38 at the half, built up a 15-point lead in the second half after senior Kenny Williams, who had a season-high 18 points, drained a three from the top of the key with 6:47 left. It was close throughout with eight ties and eight lead changes but a 17-5 Carolina run that started midway through the second half changed the […]

North Carolina went the last seven minutes without a basket against Duke but still managed to whip the Devils 79-70 for a Senior Night win that tied Virginia for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title.

The Tar Heels, trailing 40-38 at the half, built up a 15-point lead in the second half after senior Kenny Williams, who had a season-high 18 points, drained a three from the top of the key with 6:47 left.

It was close throughout with eight ties and eight lead changes but a 17-5 Carolina run that started midway through the second half changed the trajectory of the game.

Freshman Coby White, who controlled the pace particularly during the run, started the run with a driving basket left of the lane. He was fouled and hit the free throw to make it 61-55.

Later, White, who led the Heels with 21 points, juked defenders with a jab step and stopped for triple in front of the Carolina bench, giving the Heels their first double-digit lead at 70-60.

Seconds later, White whipped a sharp pass to Garrison Brooks who was open for a dunk that got the Smith Center rocking and gave Carolina a 72-60 lead.

Williams, who probably had his best game of the season on a night where he played for the last time on the home court, hit that three to make it 75-60.

During a Duke 10-0 run, Carolina took some ill-advised shots and made some ill-advised passes.

Duke’s Barrett hit a three from straightaway to draw the Devils to within five at 75-70 with 2:15 to go. Neither team could get much going during a wild couple of minutes that followed.

After Williams blocked a Barrett three, grad student Cam Johnson was fouled and he hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the Heels up 77-70 with 49 seconds to go.

A pair of free throws by Brooks, who had missed several free throws during the game, wrapped up the game.

Joining White and Williams in double figures for Carolina were Johnson, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Brooks, who had 10 points. Senior Luke Maye had only seven points but hauled in 16 rebounds and dished out a team-leading seven assists.

The Tar Heels improve to 26-5 and finish 16-2 in the conference. Duke, led by Barrett’s 26 and Cam Reddish’s 23, falls to 26-5 and 14-4 in the ACC.

Carolina, who opens the ACC tournament in New York on Thursday at 7 as the No. 2 seed, swept Duke for the first time since 2009.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Carolina controls Eagles in the paint to win 9th ACC road game

Five North Carolina players scored in double figures and Luke Maye hauled in a career-high 20 rebounds as the Tar Heels dominated Boston College 79-66 in a game that wasn’t that close. (3/2) It was a record-tying ninth straight ACC road win against no defeats. “Scoring inside and our rebounding the ball were the biggest parts of the game,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. The Tar Heels outscored the Eagles 44-18 in the paint and clobbered them on the boards, outrebounding the home team 60-35. With the score tied 16-all, Carolina took over the game with a 32-9 run to […]

Five North Carolina players scored in double figures and Luke Maye hauled in a career-high 20 rebounds as the Tar Heels dominated Boston College 79-66 in a game that wasn’t that close. (3/2)

It was a record-tying ninth straight ACC road win against no defeats.

“Scoring inside and our rebounding the ball were the biggest parts of the game,” UNC coach Roy Williams said.

The Tar Heels outscored the Eagles 44-18 in the paint and clobbered them on the boards, outrebounding the home team 60-35.

With the score tied 16-all, Carolina took over the game with a 32-9 run to go into the halftime in command, 48-25.

UNC's Luke Maye had another double-double with 17 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

UNC’s Luke Maye had another double-double with 17 points and a season-high 20 rebounds. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

Coby White started the decisive run with a fastbreak pass to Maye, followed by a pull up jumper. Carolina scored the last nine points of the first half, highlighted by a White three from the right corner and a Johnson turnaround jumper.

The lead got as high as 25 in the second half and stood at 23 with two minutes to play. BC kept in their starters while the Heels put in the third-string team and the Eagles outscored Carolina 10-0 over those last two minutes to make the final score deceptive.

Maye picked up his 13th double-double of the season with 17 points to go along with those 20 rebounds. “Luke was very aggressive, getting all over the boards,” Coach Williams said.

He didn’t get all the boards, however, as teammate Cam Johnson had 12 rebounds and a team-high 22 points. White scored 11 points while Kenny Williams and Nassir Little had 10 each.

The Tar Heels improve to 25-5 and 15-2 in the conference, remaining tied for first with Virginia. Boston College falls to 14-15 and 5-12 in the ACC.

Carolina closes out the regular season with senior night at home against Duke on Saturday.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Roy-less Tar Heels hang on over Tigers

After North Carolina had taken a one-point lead late in the first half, UNC coach Roy Williams went down like he’d been shot. Without Coach Williams, suffering from vertigo, the Heels worked a lead up to nine in the 2nd half but had to hold on for an 81-79 win at Clemson. Once again, it was the offensive production of Coby White who made the difference for the Heels as he led the way with 28 points. But a few bonehead plays by the freshman made it close at the end. White tried to squeeze through a couple of defenders […]

After North Carolina had taken a one-point lead late in the first half, UNC coach Roy Williams went down like he’d been shot. Without Coach Williams, suffering from vertigo, the Heels worked a lead up to nine in the 2nd half but had to hold on for an 81-79 win at Clemson.

Once again, it was the offensive production of Coby White who made the difference for the Heels as he led the way with 28 points.

But a few bonehead plays by the freshman made it close at the end. White tried to squeeze through a couple of defenders but Marcquise Reed, who led the Tigers with 24 points, stripped him and went in for a layup to cut the score to 75-70 with 1:13 left.

After making just one of two free throws and after Clemson had cut it to 78-75, White missed a runner and fouled Clyde Trapp, who made both ends of a one-and-one to make it a one-point game at 78-77 with 18 seconds left.

UNC senior Kenny Williams calmly swished a pair of free throws in a one-and-one situation of his own to put the Heels up 80-77 with 12 seconds left. But instead of making Clemson eat clock to get the ball down the court and put up a three, White purposely fouled Shelton Mitchell, an 85 percent free throw shooter.

The coaches jumped off the bench in dismay by White’s decision. He evidently thought it was better to give them two – which is what happened after Mitchell hit both free throws – than to allow them to have a chance to tie it with a three.

But with so much time left, Williams, who was fouled, again had to make two free throws to ensure the Tigers could do no better than tie it at the end. But Williams missed the second free throw, giving Clemson a chance to tie or win with nine seconds to go.

Clemson’s Mitchell took it the length of the court, and collided with White as nothing – not a foul on either player or a travel on Mitchell – was called. White came up with it, passed to Brooks, who passed it to Williams who threw the ball down court. A Clemson heave at the buzzer was off and Carolina had escaped.

Clemson led by as many as six points in the first half and Carolina, ahead 39-35 at the half, led by as many as nine in the second half.

But Clemson erased the UNC lead to take a 57-56 lead with just over eight minutes to play on a three-pointer by Aamir Simms.

Within seconds, Kenny Williams responded with a long two-point shot from straight away to put the Heels up 58-57 with just under eight minutes to play.

Twice Carolina worked the lead up to seven on Cam Johnson threes from the top of the key. The Tar Heels led 77-70 with a minute to go before the late-game drama.

Joining White in double figures were Johnson, who scored 19, and Luke Maye, who had 13.

Assistant coach Steve Robinson, center, had to take over and coach the entire second half after UNC coach Roy Williams went out with vertigo. (UNC Sports Information photo by Dawson Powers.)

Assistant coach Steve Robinson, center, had to take over and coach the entire second half after UNC coach Roy Williams went out with vertigo. (UNC Sports Information photo by Dawson Powers.)

Interim head coach Steve Robinson, who has been a head coach before and who has been Coach Williams’ assistant for 16 years, said it’s not easy to take over in the middle of a game but he’s done it before and the players are used to hearing his voice all the time at practice.

“I need to give them confidence and they need to play and play well,” Robinson said.

“It was a big-time win on the road in a tough environment,” he said. “They never went away. We made enough shots at the end to win the game.”

The Tar Heels improve to 24-5 and 14-2 in the conference, remaining tied for first with Virginia. Clemson falls to 17-12 and 7-8 in the ACC.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

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Tar Heel’s White turns Orange Blue

North Carolina freshman Coby White scored a season-high 34 points as the Tar Heels erased a halftime deficit to defeat Syracuse 93-85 at home. The win puts Carolina in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference by a half game over Virginia after Duke fell to Virginia Tech. White led a 15-3 run to start the second half that changed the tenor of the game. White hit a three from the top of the key and a minute later hit a three from the left wing to start the rally and passed to Garrison Brooks for a dunk to end […]

North Carolina freshman Coby White scored a season-high 34 points as the Tar Heels erased a halftime deficit to defeat Syracuse 93-85 at home.

The win puts Carolina in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference by a half game over Virginia after Duke fell to Virginia Tech.

White led a 15-3 run to start the second half that changed the tenor of the game. White hit a three from the top of the key and a minute later hit a three from the left wing to start the rally and passed to Garrison Brooks for a dunk to end the run. Instead of trailing by three at 46-43, following the run, the Heels led by nine 58-49.

The Orange went on a 14-5 push themselves, mostly behind the shooting of Tyus Battle, who led Syracuse with 29 points. Just like that the game was tied at 63-all.

Carolina scored six straight including a bucket by Seventh Woods after he dribbled around like Curly Neal before going to the hoop for a bucket that made it 69-63 midway through the second half.

Syracuse cut it to two briefly but the Orange never managed to tie or take a lead. White hit hit sixth three of the game from the left side and then came up with a steal and breakaway dunk to put Carolina in control for good at 81-73.

The Carolina lead dwindled to five before the Heels got their biggest lead of 11 late.

While the Heels trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, free throw scoring and rebounding proved to be the big differences in the game. Carolina hit an amazing 34 of 37 from the line, compared to just 13 of 23 for Syracuse. It was the most free throws a Tar Heels team has hit in a game since 2013. White hit all 10 of his attempts.

Carolina, third in the nation in rebound margin, outrebounded Syracuse 46-25. Luke Maye led the way with 12 rebounds.

White said UNC coach Roy Williams challenged them at the half to tighten up defensively. “We locked in defensively and it affected their rhythm,” White said. Offensively, White said he was pushing the ball up court in an effort to speed them up.

Carolina cut its turnovers to nine by making the easy plays, White said. “You don’t always have to go for the homerun play.”

In addition to White’s 34, Cam Johnson (16) and Nassir Little (11) scored in double figures for Carolina.

The Tar Heels improve to 23-5 and 13-2 in the conference while Syracuse Florida State, which had won eight ACC matchups in a row, falls to 18-10 overall and 9-6 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels travel to Clemson Saturday evening.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.

UNC's Coby White became the first Tar Heel freshman to score more than 30 points three times. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

UNC’s Coby White became the first Tar Heel freshman to score more than 30 points three times. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

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Carolina breaks open up close game to win over FSU

North Carolina held Florida State without a bucket for more than six minutes to open up a close game with a 16-1 run in the second half en route to a 77-59 home win. (2/23) No. 16 ranked Florida State trailed just 56-52 midway through the second half but then the Seminoles went cold. Meanwhile, Carolina got the rebounds and methodically pulled away, extending the lead to 19 points at 72-53. Luke Maye started the run for the Heels with back-to-back three pointers, one from the corner and one banked in from Carrboro. Cam Johnson added a three during the […]

North Carolina held Florida State without a bucket for more than six minutes to open up a close game with a 16-1 run in the second half en route to a 77-59 home win. (2/23)

No. 16 ranked Florida State trailed just 56-52 midway through the second half but then the Seminoles went cold. Meanwhile, Carolina got the rebounds and methodically pulled away, extending the lead to 19 points at 72-53.

Luke Maye started the run for the Heels with back-to-back three pointers, one from the corner and one banked in from Carrboro. Cam Johnson added a three during the run but the Smith Center got the loudest after a Johnson missed three. His three banged off the rim right into the hands of freshman Nassir Little who powerfully dunked it in with one quick motion.

Little had perhaps his best game of the season with 18 points and a season-high eight rebounds.

“Nassir was really big for us,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “Nassir getting to the backboard is something that really helps us.”

Coach Williams said that he simply thinks Little is healthier than he had been recently. “He felt better,” he said.

The Tar Heels outrebounded the Seminoles 47-32, including a 10-rebound advantage in the second half.

“We boxed out as well as we have all year,” Little said. “Crashing the offensive glass helped us too.”

Maye and Johnson each had double-doubles for Carolina as Maye scored 15 points and hauled in 11 rebounds while Johnson scored 18 and pulled down 10 rebounds.

It looked like the Tar Heels would make it a blowout in the first half after Johnson drained a three from the right wing to make it 31-18. But Carolina went scoreless for more than three minutes while Florida State quickly scored 11 straight points to get back in it.

The Heels led just 37-34 at the break despite a 20-6 points in the paint edge.

An 11-4 run in the first four minutes of the second half prompted a Seminole timeout when Coby White went coast to coast for a layup that made it 48-38.

Three triples by three different Florida State players got the visitors without four before Carolina went on that 16-1 run to all but wrap up the victory.

Carolina improves to 22-5 and 12-2 in the conference to remain tied for first. Florida State, which had won eight ACC matchups in a row, falls to 21-6 overall and 9-5 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels host Syracuse Tuesday night.

For more on the game, including a box score, please click here.