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Carolina Outduels Virginia For Championship Spot

Marcus Paige hit two free throws with 3.9 seconds left to secure a memorable Tar Heel victory Friday night in Greensboro.

The No. 5 seed North Carolina men’s basketball team battled past top-seeded Virginia , 71-67, to advance to the ACC Championship game for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

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With the victory, the Tar Heels improved to 24-10 overall while the Cavaliers dropped to 29-3 on the season.

Roy Williams was fired up Friday night (Todd Melet)

Roy Williams was fired up Friday night (Todd Melet)

“We made some big plays down the stretch. Made six of our last seven free throws. I think that was big. We’re especially pleased to be here still playing,” UNC head coach Roy Williams says.

Freshman forward Justin Jackson scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Carolina scoring charge. Jackson’s smooth, serene movements impressed all in attendance in the packed-out Coliseum.

“I always knew I was a shooter. Obviously, like you said, the numbers didn’t show it. But for me, I knew it would come around sooner or later,” Jackson says.

Justin Jackson shot the lights out of the ball (Todd Melet)

Justin Jackson shot the lights out of the ball (Todd Melet)

In addition to Jackson’s stellar performance, Paige contributed 14 points and five assists. Junior forward Brice Johnson posted 13 points and six rebounds.

The Tar Heels led wire-to-wire and imposed their pace of play on the Cavaliers, who appeared tentative early.

“That wasn’t who we were to start. And again, Carolina came after us. They were charged and just the easy looks they got, we were on our heels, their pressure really bothered us, and we just looked, I don’t know what the word is,” UVA head coach Tony Bennett says.

But after a 30-23 halftime lead for UNC, UVA guard Malcolm Brogdon got a pep talk from Coach Bennett. It worked.

Brogdon came to life and played like the champion he is down the stretch, knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot. He epitomized cool under pressure and his calm demeanor and poise was exemplary. In one stint, Brogdon scored 12 straight points for the Cavaliers.

Everything was left on the floor - hustle plays abound (Todd Melet)

Everything was left on the floor – hustle plays abound (Todd Melet)

On the other side of the floor, Paige embodied many of the same characteristics. Whenever the Tar Heels needed a bucket, he delivered.

“We competed at the highest level we’ve competed all year, and that was one thing that was a positive for us,” Paige says.

Back and forth they went down the stretch. Things got dicey for UNC when Brogdon cut the deficit down to a single point with 1:16 remaining, but the Tar Heels never truly faltered. UVA just upped the ante, like it normally does, in the money minutes.

The difference? Carolina finished with a 54.8-percent shooting clip from the floor, including a sharp 50 percent from three-point land. Virginia shot 44 percent overall and just 31 percent from behind the arc.

Brogdon tallied 25 points to lead all scorers while Anthony Gill and London Perrantes each finished with 12 points apiece.

In the Greensboro Coliseum, the Cavaliers remain winless against the Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament, dropping to 0-6 all-time.

Brogdon fights for the ball with JP Tokoto (Todd Melet)

Brogdon fights for the ball with JP Tokoto (Todd Melet)

Saturday night at 8:30 p.m., the Tar Heels will have the chance to become the first team to win the ACC Tournament by winning four games in four days. Their opponent? Notre Dame. Not Duke.

Jackson says fatigue shouldn’t be an issue for Carolina.

“Honestly, there’s no excuse. We made it to the championship, and other teams played games these past couple days. So we’re going to get rested up tonight, come out tomorrow whatever time the game is, and be ready to play them,” Jackson says.



Dominant Cavaliers Smack Down Tar Heels

The No. 12 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell flat in the second half for the second straight game, falling to No. 3 Virginia, 75-64, Monday night in the Smith Center to drop to 17-6 overall and 7-3 in ACC play.

With the victory, the Cavaliers improved to 20-1 on the season and an 8-1 mark in conference action.

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Yet again, it was a tale of two halves for the Tar Heels, who couldn’t buy a basket in the final 20 minutes of play. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, used a characteristically efficient offense to speed away and put the game to bed. It was only UVA’s fourth all-time win in the Smith Center.

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A dejected UNC bench looks on Monday night (Todd Melet)

A dejected UNC bench looks on Monday night (Todd Melet)

“They fought. I think we got back to the mentality that we needed to.  I said in the postgame interview after that our way is a blue-collar way.  It’s a fighting way.  Our guys, I think, responded well and really rallied,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett says.

The Cavaliers used a balanced scoring attack to great effect. Junior guard Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 17 points, but junior Justin Anderson was impressive as well, tallying 16 points and adding in seven assists.

As for the Tar Heels, it was junior guard Marcus Paige’s 15 points that topped the stat sheet. Junior forward Brice Johnson added in 14 points of his own to go along with a team-leading eight rebounds.

But it wasn’t nearly enough to keep UNC in contact down the stretch. Once again, UNC head coach Roy Williams was left to question his team’s toughness.

“I’m disappointed in our sense of urgency at some points during the game. I’m disappointed that we gave in. I’m sitting here thinking that we need some practice time. Bottom line is I admire what Tony [Bennett’s] team has done. He does a great job coaching and his kids have bought into it completely. They share the basketball, they don’t turn it over,” Coach Williams says.

***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame remarks***

Carolina, though, appeared to come out of the gates with an urgency that Coach Williams thought was lacking against Louisville, surging to a 14-8 lead with 12:41 on the first half clock. In fact, Coach Bennett was forced to call a timeout to regroup his bunch of Cavaliers.

Nate Britt shoots over a pair of Cavalier defenders (Todd Melet)

Nate Britt shoots over a pair of Cavalier defenders (Todd Melet)

But it was Anderson who kept his team in the contest in the in the early going. With 8:41 to play, the Cavaliers had scraped out a tie with the Tar Heels thanks in large part to Anderson’s nine quick points.

From there, the Cavaliers got extra production from sophomore guard London Perrantes to take a 30-27 advantage with 3:27 to go before halftime.

But after enduring a shooting drought that saw the Tar Heels go one for six from the line in one stretch, a last- second make by Kennedy Meeks gave UNC the 33-32 lead at intermission.

Out of the break, it was Virginia that stamped its authority, taking quality shots and taking a 42-38 lead with 13:42 to play in the contest.

Brice Johnson showed flashes of brilliance, but it wasn't enough against the Cavaliers. (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson showed flashes of brilliance, but it wasn’t enough against the Cavaliers. (Todd Melet)

Meanwhile, Carolina looked sluggish and out of sorts, failing to build any rhythm on the offensive end. In fact, in the first ten minutes, the Tar Heels connected on a mere four out of their first 14 shots.

With 9:38 to play, Virginia held a commanding 54-44 lead.

From there, the Cavaliers coasted to the final buzzer for a stress-free victory and a rare one at that, in the Smith Center.

Leading UNC scorer Paige says things aren’t going to turn around unless the entire squad goes all-in.

“We’re trying to figure out how to do that.  Like I said, we have talent, we have pieces.  But if you don’t have five guys buying in, playing every possession the way coach preaches.  It sounds cliché, and that’s boring talk for media, it’s not anything juicy for you guys, but it’s the truth,” Paige says.

The struggling Tar Heels will now get some time to regroup. UNC won’t return to action until the weekend, with a road game at Boston College Saturday at 3 p.m.


Smarting Cavaliers, Tar Heels Meet In Pivotal ACC Battle

The No. 13 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 17-5 overall and 7-2 in ACC play, looks to avoid a two-game slide Monday night in the Smith Center when the league-leading and second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers, 19-1 overall and 7-1 in conference, visit Chapel Hill for a pivotal ACC showdown.

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“We talked about trying not to turn the basketball over and give them openings. We tried to talk about not fouling, and we put them on the line 44 times. […] I’m not talking about the officials. We made the fouls, and we shouldn’t have done that,” UNC head coach Roy Williams says. “The other thing we talked about was doing a great job on the backboards, and they got 17 points on offensive rebounds in the second half – poor job of playing, worse job of coaching.”

Coming off a brutal loss at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals Saturday, Carolina has no time to mourn the 18-point second half lead it let slip away.

Such is life in the ACC. A new opponent and a fresh challenge awaits the Tar Heels Monday night in a two-game in 48-hour stretch UNC is getting used to this season.

Malcolm Brogdon on teh dribble (UVA Athletics)

Malcolm Brogdon on the dribble (UVA Athletics)

Carolina’s opponent, Virginia, can empathize with UNC’s predicament. The Cavaliers will need to move on quickly from an energy-sapping home court loss to the Duke Blue Devils Saturday night that ended their pursuit at perfection.

Coach Williams, meanwhile, will be preaching toughness in his pregame locker room speech. UNC miserably lost in that department against the more physical and aggressive Cardinals – who emphatically outrebounded, outhustled and outmanned the reeling Tar Heels.

Coach Williams, though, is taking the blame.

“That shows you something how much Louisville wanted the basketball. I hate to say this, but I’ve done a poor job of coaching, because they evidently wanted the basketball and were tougher about it than I was,” Coach Williams says.

Luckily for UNC, it appears Marcus Paige merely rolled his ankle Saturday in the KFC Yum! Center, so the junior guard should be good to go against Virginia.

Paige, who’s shooting 45.5 percent from three-point range in ACC play, says he’s eager to wipe the sour taste out of his mouth.

“I’d rather play games than practice any day. I’m excited for the challenge that Virginia’s going to bring to our gym,” Paige says.

It’s still unclear whether freshman guard Joel Berry will see action in the Dean Dome against the Cavaliers, although Coach Williams says he’s doubtful.

The methodical Cavaliers, led by head coach Tony Bennett, will hope to slow down the proceedings to a snail’s crawl; while the Tar Heels will attempt to run the show at warp speed. It provides an intriguing contrast in styles.

Marcus Paige on the drive (Nick Vitali)

Marcus Paige on the drive (Nick Vitali)

The Tar Heels lead the head-to-head series with the Cavaliers 128-51, but came up short in their most recent meeting – a 76-61 victory for UVA in Charlottesville last season.

UNC junior forward Brice Johnson got into foul trouble early at Louisville. Needless to say, it took him out of his game. Johnson says he’s ready to make amends.

“We knew they’d put up a fight. They ended up fighting and ended up winning. We got to be ready to compete a little bit better. Myself personally, I shouldn’t have played the way I did. You just got to be ready for the next one,” Johnson says.

Which team will best respond to weekend adversity Monday night? Everything is still on the line.

With a win, the Cavaliers would put distance between themselves and the rest of the ACC pack. A Tar Heel victory would catapult UNC into a tie for the conference lead.

Despite the bitterness of recent defeats, for one school, the Smith Center will serve as the perfect rehabilitation center.

WSoc Bows Out of ACC Tourney In 2-0 Loss to UVA

The North Carolina women’s soccer team, crowned the conference regular season champions,  has been eliminated from the ACC championship tournament after falling to the Virginia Cavaliers in a 2-0 shutout loss in the semifinals Friday night at UNC-Greensboro Soccer Stadium.

With the loss, the Tar Heels fell to 12-2-2 on the season while the Cavaliers improved to 18-1.

Greensboro’s 46-degree weather didn’t stop the speed or intensity of the rivalry game as UVA forward Makenzy (muh-KEN-zee) Doniak  scored her 14th goal of the season in the first ten minutes of play. A long-range shot in the 29th minute by Virginia sophomore forward Morgan Reuther sealed the last goal of the game. The goal was assisted by the conference midfielder of the year, Danielle Colaprico.

Three impressive saves by Carolina junior keeper Bryane Heaberlin spared the Heels from a blow-out deficit after the first half.

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels’ best chance to start a run against the Cavaliers was a last minute kick that was stopped by a header from UVA freshman Megan Reid to keep Carolina off of the board going into halftime.

Even with solid scoring position and a penalty kick in the 21st minute of the second half, the Tar Heel offense failed to convert on its opportunities.

UNC is now 59-4-4 all-time in the ACC Tournament.

During the night’s halftime interview, UNC head coach Anson Dorrance praised Virginia as having the best midfield in the country. Their dominant midfield and offensive presence leads the conference in goals scored with 65.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers will face top-seeded Florida State on Sunday in Greensboro for the ACC title.

‘Comeback Carolina’ Keeps Coastal Crown In Sight

UNC head coach Larry Fedora wasn’t pleased with the way his football team played Saturday in Charlottesville. But the Tar Heels snuck past the Cavaliers and in turn, kept alive their dreams of playing in the ACC Championship game.

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It was a complete team victory for Carolina. Defensive tackle Nazair Jones stepped up with a momentum-shifting interception late in the contest and wide receiver Mack Hollins snagged a pair of electrifying touchdowns.

But despite only coming in for a single play, backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky may have been the player of the game. After losing his helmet a play earlier, junior signal caller Marquise Williams was by rule, forced to sit out the following play and on a third down and 15 in the red zone, Trubisky took center stage.

Mitch Trubisky came up big for the Tar Heels (UNC Athletics)

Mitch Trubisky came up big for the Tar Heels (UNC Athletics)

The go-ahead score to T.J. Thorpe stunned the Charlottesville faithful, but for Coach Fedora, he wasn’t at all surprised by Trubisky’s heroics.

“We’ve got confidence in Mitch. We knew Mitch can go in and execute – that’s why we’ve done what we’ve done with him all year and why he’s played. This team has confidence in what he can do. He showed it,” Coach Fedora says.

But the game was sealed by an improbable gamble by Coach Fedora with the 28-27 lead. In a decision that was reminiscent of LSU head coach Les Miles, Coach Fedora elected to go for an onsides kick. The Tar Heels executed perfectly.

Coach Fedora, who’s now a spotless 5-0 against Virginia in his coaching career, says he had full confidence the play would work. He wanted the ball in his offense’s hands.

“It was there all day. It was a great time to do it. I wanted to have the ball in our hands when the game was over. Those guys did that,” Coach Fedora says.

Despite the dramatic road win that evened UNC’s record up at 4-4 overall and 2-2 in ACC action, Coach Fedora says he didn’t think his team played all that well.

“We didn’t play very well anywhere actually. What we had to do was find a way to win a football game. We did that,” Coach Fedora says.

Nazair Jones snagged a big interception Saturday (UNC Athletics)

Nazair Jones snagged a big interception Saturday (UNC Athletics)

The stat sheet backs up Coach Fedora. The Cavaliers had six more first downs than the Tar Heels, gained more yards and dominated the time of possession. But UNC had the edge where it counts most – the scoreboard.

Coach Fedora says the victory was made more special in light of the disturbing conclusions drawn from the Wainstein Report that has a dark cloud hovering around the University.

“We got a lot of people that are getting blasted. There’s a lot of negativity out there. I can assure you, our University, our football team and everybody that’s a Tar Heel will be much stronger from this. We’ll overcome it,” Coach Fedora says.

And with the gutsy win, Carolina’s improbable drive to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte stays alive, at least for another week.

Tar Heels Survive Cavaliers 28-27

The North Carolina football team dispatched the Virginia Cavaliers 28-27 Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium to improve to 4-4 on the season and 2-2 in ACC play.

With the loss, the Cavaliers fell to 4-4 on the year and a 2-2 mark in conference action.

It was Virginia who darted out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks in large part to Kevin Parks’ sturdy legs. The senior running back rumbled down the field, giving the home team a 14-0 advantage at the 3:06 mark in the first quarter.

Then, the Tar Heel offense promptly answered right back. A Marquise Williams 52-yard dash cut the deficit in half, and a 57-yard bomb to Mack Hollins tied the game at 14-all with 55 seconds to go in the opening quarter.

The Cavaliers pushed ahead with a 5-yard touchdown reception by Kevin Parks, but yet again, the Tar Heels responded quickly. It was Hollins again. This time, the explosive receiver snagged a 63-yard strike from Williams to knot the game up at 21 points apiece.

Virginia added an Ian Frye field goal to edge ahead 24-21 as both teams trotted into the halftime locker room.

The third quarter was a defensive stalemate with the Cavaliers able to manage a 37-yard field goal by Frye to push them ahead 27-21 with 5: 39 on the third quarter clock.

In the fourth quarter, with UVA driving, UNC’s Nazair Jones intercepted Lambert’s pass and returned it to Virginia’s 38-yard line. UNC was in prime scoring position with 6:09 to play, down six.

UNC’s Williams was forced to sit out a play on third down and ten inside the UVA red zone. Backup redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky delivered. He threw a clutch touchdown pass to T.J. Thorpe to push the Tar Heels ahead 28-27.

Coach Fedora’s gamble to employ an onsides kick with four minutes left to play paid off. Hollins recovered. UNC ran down the clock to close out the vital ACC Coastal victory with the help of an illegal substitution penalty on UVA.

Next up for the Tar Heels is another pivotal road game next Saturday at 5-3 Miami.


UNC Aims For Fifth Straight Win In ‘South’s Oldest Rivalry’

The North Carolina football team, 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC, will travel up the road to Charlottesville and take on the Virginia Cavaliers, 4-3 overall and 2-1 in conference, Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a pivotal Coastal division matchup.

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UNC head coach Larry Fedora has a secret weapon. He’s been soliciting help from Carolina basketball skipper Roy Williams in recent weeks to get the Tar Heels back on track.

Coach Williams’ call in to the Larry Fedora Live show last week resulted in a UNC victory, so the two linked up again earlier this week in hopes of a similar result at UVA.

“I wasn’t going to call because I’m not superstitious, but Wanda [wife] thought it would be a good thing since I called last week. Since we won last week, she thought it would be a lot better if I called back. Larrry, great job and congratulations. Let’s do it again this weekend,” Coach Williams says.

Norkeithus Otis flattens a Cavalier in 2013 (Elliott Rubin)

Norkeithus Otis flattens a Cavalier in 2013 (Elliott Rubin)

Carolina has dominated the South’s Oldest Rivalry in recent years, having won four straight with an average margin of victory of 25 points.

But Coach Fedora says the Cavaliers are much better team this year thanks to a stingy defense.

“They’re a much improved football team, I can tell you that. I think they’ve got seven seniors over there on the defense. They’ve got confidence over there and are running hard to the ball,” Coach Fedora says.

UVA senior middle linebacker Mike Coley, in particular, has Coach Fedora concerned.

“They’re good up front. They play hard up front. They rotate about eight guys consistently. The Mike backer, No. 44, is a load. He brings it downhill and is going to test your manhood every time,” Coach Fedora says.

One of the more intriguing matchups will be Cavalier running back Kevin Parks, who’s amassed over 500 yards on the ground this year, up against the UNC rush defense.

UVA's Kevin Parks (

UVA’s Kevin Parks (

The Tar Heels successfully held down the Clemson rushing attack earlier in the season. Junior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer is hoping the defense can rekindle that kind of form Saturday at Scott Stadium.

“They’re talented. They have a good running back in Parks, who is one of the better running backs in the ACC. We’ve got to do a good job of tackling him. They run similar schemes as Notre Dame and Clemson. We feel like we did a good job containing the rush against Clemson. Hopefully, we’re going to use some of the similar calls that we did against them and use it versus Virginia,” Schoettmer says.

As for the UNC running game, the Tar Heels received a welcome boost in that department from T.J. Logan and Romar Morris last weekend.

Junior quarterback and ACC Player of the Week Marquise Williams says a more balanced offense is much harder for teams to defend.

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

“That helps out. If you’re one-dimensional, it’s not going to work out too well. People can just line up eight in the box. It’s great that we have a two-dimensional style of football. We can run and pass. We’re doing tremendously well on both sides,” Williams says.

On a larger scale, the 119th meeting on the gridiron between two of the top public universities in the nation could go a long way into determining the ACC Coastal division champion.

But Coach Fedora says he’s not thinking about all that. He’s focused on the task at hand.

“I’m aware that it’s wide open. We’ve just got to take care of our business. I’m more worried about us right now than anything else going on. I know if we keep our head down and keep improving, maybe something good will happen,” Coach Fedora says.

Scouting Report: Virginia Coach Mike London

WCHL’s Matt Oakes caught up with UVA head coach Mike London as his team prepares to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend in Charlottesville. London says the game is a ‘must-win’ ACC Coastal matchup. The two discussed the academic side of student-athletes, the Cavaliers’ leading rusher Kevin Parks and how best to defend UNC QB Marquise Williams.

***Listen to the interview***

UNC Men’s Soccer Takes Over No. 1 In CSN Poll

The UNC men’s soccer team surpassed the only team it has fallen to this season and now sits in the top spot in the nation, according to a recent poll.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.21.45 AM

Click to enlarge

College Soccer News ranked North Carolina No. 1 in the nation Monday after its 3-0 ACC win against Pittsburgh on Friday in Chapel Hill.

That win propelled the Tar Heels past the former No. 1, UCLA Bruins, who the Heels lost to, 1-0 in the Carolina Nike Classic on August 31.

The Bruins’ recent scoring woes helped contribute to the shift: UCLA is coming off a pair of 0-0 ties to Santa Clara and Cal Poly over the weekend.

Notre Dame held the No. 2 spot before Monday’s poll but fell to No. 4 after a 1-0 loss to Kentucky last Monday. Washington sits in the No. 3 spot, moving up two; Virginia rounds out the top five falling one spot.

The Tar Heels are back on the road and out of conference play Tuesday against William and Mary. That game can be seen on NSCAATV with the kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

Diamond Heels Avoid Sweep, Take Down No. 1 Cavs

The North Carolina baseball team avoided a series sweep Sunday afternoon by downing top-ranked Virginia 4-2 at Davenport Field thanks to a two-run home run blast by Michael Russell.

With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 23-17 on the season and 10-11 in ACC action while the Cavaliers dropped to 33-7 overall and 16-5 in conference.

Carolina had a great opportunity to capture game one of the ACC series in Charlottesville as UNC ace Trent Thornton was edged by UVA hurler Nathan Kirby 3-2.

In game two, Tar Heel junior Benton Moss allowed just three hits in 7.2 innings, but the Carolina bats failed to back him up as Virginia secured the series with a 3-1 victory Saturday.

Easter Sunday went to the Tar Heels with sophomore reliever Reilly Hovis closing the door on the mound by dismissing the final 11 Cavalier hitters. It was Carolina’s first triumph over a No. 1 team since a sweep of Virginia in 2011.

Next up for the Tar Heels is Tuesday visit to East Carolina.