‘Little Things’ Still Costing Tar Heels Big-Time

The Tar Heels were left wondering what could have been Saturday evening in the waning minutes of a hard-fought, but altogether frustrating loss to the undefeated Fighting Irish.

Small mistakes, again, doomed the UNC football team.

***Listen to the story***

UNC head coach Larry Fedora says the 50-43 loss at Notre Dame was tough to swallow in the locker room, especially with all the self-inflicting wounds the team suffered.

“They’re hurting. They know that was a heck of a football team they played today. You play a game like that, and you feel like you’re not that far away. We just need to get over the hump. We’ve got to get better in all three areas. We’ve got to eliminate the mistakes we’re making and do much better with the details, just the little things,” Coach Fedora says.

Larry Fedora (AP)

Larry Fedora (AP)

In total, the 2-4 Tar Heels tallied nine penalties for 94 yards. UNC also tossed in a pair of turnovers – one lost fumble and an interception.

But one bright spot for the Tar Heels came at the quarterback position. Coach Fedora abandoned his typical rotation formula, saying he didn’t want to disrupt Marquise Williams’ fine rhythm in South Bend.

“We decided to take some pressure off 10 [Mitch Trubisky] and let 12 [Williams] go. He was moving the ball. We were effective against a good defense. I thought 12 had a really good feel with what he was doing and seeing, so we decided to keep going with him,” Coach Fedora says.

Williams’ dual-threat ability was on full display at Notre Dame Stadium last weekend, avoiding tackles and even finding the end zone with his feet.

Missed tackles, however, plagued the UNC defense yet again, leading to big plays that Coach Fedora says crippled his team’s chances.

“You can’t give up big plays. If you give up big plays, you’re going to have a hard time winning. That’s one of the two things that we look at – the turnover battle and the explosive play battle,” Coach Fedora says.

Uncharacteristically, mistakes even began to infect the special teams department Saturday.

Photo courtesy of ledger-enquirer

Photo courtesy of ledger-enquirer

Carolina missed a field goal, had an extra point blocked, and botched a makeable two-point conversion. And don’t forget, the usually reliable Tommy Hibbard punted from the 33-yard line in the third quarter and sailed the ball into the end zone for a net gain of 13 yards, costing the UNC defense valuable field position.

The most controversial special teams play was the roughing-the- snapper penalty that kept alive an Irish fourth-quarter scoring drive. The Tar Heels were leading and about to get the ball back. Oh, what could have been?

With all that said, Carolina did show improvement and impressive fight on the road in a hostile environment against a top-five opponent, but until the ‘little things’ are cleaned up, the Tar Heels may have to settle for more moral victories.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/little-things-still-costing-tar-heels-big-time/

Battling Tar Heels Fall 50-43 To No. 5 Fighting Irish

The North Carolina football team took a 36-35 lead into the fourth quarter. But the Tar Heels couldn’t hold on and lost 50-43 at the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday in South Bend, dropping to a 2-4 record.

***Listen to the recap***

With the win, the Irish improved to 6-0 on the season and now set up a top-five showdown with No. 1 Florida State next weekend in Tallahassee.

Photo courtesy of sbnation.com

Photo courtesy of sbnation.com

Irish quarterback Everett Golson threw three touchdown passes to overcome his three turnovers and keep Notre Dame unblemished in 2014.

A controversial roughing-the-snapper penalty on UNC linebacker Norkeithus Otis kept alive the go-ahead touchdown drive for Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. From there, the Irish seized control of the contest and ran out the clock with strong ball control.

The Tar Heels remained winless all-time in South Bend. Carolina’s 43 points on Saturday are the third most scored in a UNC loss in school history.

UNC junior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 24 of 41 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He also tallied a career-high 132 yards on the ground, including a rushing touchdown. Williams became the first Tar Heel in school history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the same game.

“Marquise [Williams] played his heart out,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora Larry Fedora says. “He gave us a chance to win the football game. He ran the ball hard, he made some great throws, and he was a fighter out there today.”

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (UNC Athletics)

Williams didn’t stop there; he snagged a 23-yard pass from receiver Quinshad Davis for a score as well. Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky didn’t see the field for the first time this season. The UNC offense experienced good rhythm for most of the contest.

But the UNC defense struggled to stop the Notre Dame offense, giving up at least 50 points for the third time in 2014, a record for the most 50-plus-point games surrendered in a single season by the Tar Heels.

Next up for the Tar Heels is a return home to Chapel Hill to take on 5-1 Georgia Tech at Kenan Stadium in a critical ACC Coastal contest.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-11/

Upset-Minded Tar Heels Meet No. 5 Fighting Irish

The North Carolina football team, with a 2-3 record, heads to South Bend to take on an in-form 5-0 Notre Dame squad ranked No. 5 nationally. The two programs will collide for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised contest.

***Listen to the preview***

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson remains in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy in 2014.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora says Golson has improved tremendously as a passer and has the luxury of playing behind a stout offensive line that averages over 300 pounds per player.

“He has really grown as a passer. He can zip the ball and really spins it well. He’s got a tremendous offensive line – that has probably been the biggest thing for him this year. They’re big up front. They can move you,” Coach Fedora says.

Photo courtesy of www.uhnd.com

Photo courtesy of www.uhnd.com

But the true strength of the Fighting Irish lies in a dominating defense that’s only giving up a measly 12 points per contest.

Coach Fedora says Notre Dame’s size and speed is a formidable combo.

“They have the No. 3 scoring defense in country right now. They’re big and can run on the back end, not that they can’t run on the front end. They’re really big up front – 300-plus [pounds] across the front. We’ll have our work cut out for us up there,” Coach Fedora says.

Defensively, UNC has shown improvement in the past couple games, especially against the run. But this Saturday, Coach Fedora says they’ll have to guard against the dual-threat ability of Notre Dame’s Golson.

“They’re going to go as far as he takes them. He’s really a good player. He can run and beat you with his legs on any play. He can turn an ordinary play into a great play. He’s what makes it tick. He’s a really good football player,” Coach Fedora says.

The Irish are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Stanford. But head coach Brian Kelly says it’s vital for his team to put that behind them and focus on a talented Tar Heel team.

“Coming off a win against Stanford, it was important that we got right back to work against a very athletic and young, aggressive team in North Carolina,” Coach Kelly says.

For sophomore offensive tackle Jon Heck, the trip to South Bend will be a family affair. But he says his family members won’t be pulling for Carolina.

“My entire family went to Notre Dame. My uncle is actually a priest there. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins went there and are going to be there. They say they want me to do well, but they’re cheering for Notre Dame,” Heck says.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

The Tar Heels will certainly have nothing to lose against the heavily-favored Irish, but Coach Fedora says he’s relishing the opportunity.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity sitting before us right now. It should be a lot of fun to find out how we’re going to respond and who we are. It should be a great game,” Coach Fedora says.

Carolina and Notre Dame will meet for the 19th time in a series that dates back to 1949. The Tar Heels trail the all-time series, only managing to emerge victorious on two occasions.

UNC’s last win over a top-10 team was a 31-28 victory over No.4 Miami in 2004. Coach Fedora says he’s looking to make some history this weekend, but will his error-prone Tar Heels be up to the challenge of a smothering Irish defense and an efficient offense? Saturday will provide the answers.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/upset-minded-tar-heels-meet-5-fighting-irish/

UNC Men’s Basketball Schedule Released

The UNC men’s basketball team eases into its 2014-15 campaign, but the newly released schedule is highlighted by some high-level opponents.

View the Schedule

The new 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with talent bringing Louisville to the mix this year after Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined last year. The Tar Heels face the Cardinals in a home-and-home conference series this season; Carolina faces Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Smith Center and will travel to Pittsburgh.

Only one of the UNC-Duke matchups is scheduled to be carried on both ESPN and the ACC Network this year. The rivalry is the only contest carried by two networks. The ACC Network could very well still pick up the season finale in Chapel Hill on March 7.

Out of conference, the Tar Heels travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Wildcats in mid-December. Last year, Kentucky traveled to Chapel Hill where Carolina handed out the 82-77 defeat of Wildcats.

McAdoo Emerges as ‘Giant Killer’ Carolina Edges Kentucky 82-77

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, UNC travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. Carolina opens the tournament on Paradise Island against Butler and will face two other opponents out of the group of Oklahoma, UCLA, UAB, Florida, Georgetown, or Wisconsin.

Those dying to get to basketball season, you’ll be happy. Late Night with Roy comes three weeks earlier this year. The unofficial season tipoff is October 3.

Tar Heel Take: Late Night with Roy

The ACC officially announced the 2014-15 schedules Wednesday.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-basketball-schedule-released/

Tar Heels Win One For The Seniors With 63-61 Triumph Over Fighting Irish

The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team beat Notre Dame 63-61 Monday on Senior Night to record a 12th straight win and improve to 23-7 on the season and 13-4 in ACC play.

With the loss, Notre Dame dropped to 15-16 on the season and 6-12 in conference action.

***Listen to the story***

The Tar Heels raced away from the Fighting Irish early on with in-form play from J.P. Tokoto. Carolina claimed the 41-27 lead at the intermission with a clean performance, only committing three turnovers despite shuffling nearly the entire team on and off the court due to Senior Day tradition.

Senior Send-Off (Todd Melet)

Senior Send-Off (Todd Melet)

Notre Dame went on a 10-1 run to start the second half. Carolina only managed to score eight points in over ten minutes after intermission. The free throw shooting woes continued to plague UNC as the Tar Heels shot 45.5 percent from the line on 22 attempts.

The Irish claimed the 56-54 lead with 3:46 to play, but Carolina closed out the game in fine form with clutch shots by both Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo.

Impressively, after falling behind 49-46, the Tar Heel defense held Notre Dame without a field goal for seven minutes and 52 seconds.

“Senior Night is always emotional to me. It’s emotional for Leslie [McDonald] because he didn’t have the kind of game that he’s had recently. Those four seniors have meant a lot to us,” Head Coach Roy Williams says.

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

McAdoo led the scoring charge for the Tar Heels with 14 points while Tokoto reached double figures with an 11-point contribution.

Pat Connaughton provided 17 points for the Irish, but Eric Atkins led all scorers with 21 points.  Despite the impressive outings, UNC overcame and emerged victorious on Senior Night.

The opening tipoff was won by Notre Dame, but they threw it away to hand the ball back to the senior Tar Heels and McAdoo.

Wade Moody popped a three-pointer to the delight of the crowd. McAdoo scored on the ensuing possession to give UNC the 4-0 lead.

McAdoo scored and drew the foul. He knocked down the foul shot after the senior role players were all relegated to the bench following their ceremonial start to the game.

With 16:45 on the first half clock, Carolina held the 8-4 advantage. Meeks scored inside off a sharp McAdoo assist.

Austin Burgett knocked down a three-pointer to reduce the Irish deficit down to four points with 14:43 on the clock.

J.P. Tokoto drained a deep jumper, finding some space while the Irish continued to struggle on the offensive end with turnovers and sluggish play.

Atkins scored on a smooth shot to close the gap down to three, but Kennedy Meeks replied with a score of his own to push the Tar Heels ahead 16-11 with 11:48 to play in the half.

Joel James powered his way to the basket, making the shot and getting fouled. He made the free throw to give UNC the 21-13 lead with 8:38 to play before halftime.

McAdoo flung the ball through the nets as the Carolina offense was roaring along, shredding the Fighting Irish defense.

McAdoo battling for the ball (Todd Melet)

McAdoo battling for the ball (Todd Melet)

McDonald nailed a shot from behind the arc to give the Tar Heels a 28-16 edge with 5:30 to play in the half. Meanwhile, Atkins continued to be the one player for the Irish who was keeping them in the contest, knocking down another beautiful jumper.

Paige responded on the other end, matching Atkins with a three-pointer of his own. Tokoto’s athleticism was on full display as he weaved around a couple Notre Dame defenders with an electric score.

After another McDonald strike, Carolina had the 35-22 advantage with 3:01 left in the half.

Tokoto streaked to the basket again out of a timeout, making the shot and picking up a foul in the process. With 2:13 on the first half clock, Carolina held a 37-24 lead over Notre Dame.

Freshman Steve Vasturia pulled away for a made jumper, but Tokoto continued his offensive storm with a score for the Tar Heels right after.

At the half, it was Carolina with the 41-27 advantage. The Tar Heels shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half.

Tokoto was leading the way with 9 points while McAdoo contributed 8 points for the Tar Heels. But even more impressively, Carolina only committed three turnovers in a half where the entire team saw action.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, was connecting on 42 percent of its shots. Atkins produced a team-leading 10 points for the Irish.

Pat Connaughton drained a deep three-pointer to trim the Tar Heel lead down to 42-37 as the Irish were on an 10-1 run to start the second half.

Brice Johnson scored UNC’s first field goal of the second half, but the Irish offense was rolling now. Atkins scored on the other end. With 15:43 to play, Carolina held a slim 44-39 advantage.

The lead was cut down to three when Atkins hit another jumper, and a three-point snipe tied the game at 44-44 with 14:41 to play.

Johnson responded with a score to break the tie as the crowd drew back into the contest. Notre Dame was making everything they looked at from the floor, sinking another long-range three-pointer to claim the lead at 47-46 with 13:38 left in the game.

A big block by McAdoo came at the 12:05 mark with Carolina trailing 49-46 with 11:57 to play.

McAdoo hitting the hardwood (Todd Melet)

McAdoo hitting the hardwood (Todd Melet)

Nate Britt drained a deep jumper to get the Carolina offense out of its funk while the defense responded with a stop.

After a turnaround jumper that sunk through the nets by McAdoo, the Tar Heels were back on in front 50-49 with 9:42 to play.

***Listen to the call by the Tar Heel Sports Network’s Jones Angell***

Britt took a hard foul in transition that left him relegated to the floor for a while before he hobbled off the court. Hubert stepped in to shoot his foul shots, but missed both.

McDonald stepped out of bounds to commit a turnover, and with 7:40 to play, the Tar Heels were clinging to a 50-49 lead.

McAdoo got to the line and missed an ugly two free throws to the groan of the crowd. Paige darted into the paint and calmly floated in a shot that gave UNC the 52-50 edge, but Notre Dame answered right back to tie the game at 52-52 with 5:19 remaining.

Britt fired in a shot that regained the lead for the Tar Heels. Atkins nailed a jumper for the Irish to retie the game and then take the lead with a runaway layup by Vasturia that earned the 56-54 lead for Notre Dame with 3:46 to play.

McAdoo went to foul line, but only made one of two. The Tar Heels trailed by a point. But he made up for it on the next possession with a contested shot that fell through the nets in transition to give UNC the lead at 57-56.

Johnson followed McAdoo’s lead with a score and a foul after a Notre Dame turnover, but he missed the free throw. UNC led by three.

Johnson spreading out. (Todd Melet)

Johnson spreading out. (Todd Melet)

Tokoto answered the bell again with a clutch make that ignited the crowd with 1:15 to play. Carolina had saved its best stuff for the close yet again, claiming a 61-56 lead with 1:15 to play.

Connaughton worked his way inside for a score and a foul. He calmly sank the point after to close the Irish to within two points with 40 seconds left.

Paige was fouled with 17 seconds remaining. He knocked down one of two. But the Irish scored quickly on the other end and fouled Paige again. He missed another free throw to leave the door open for the Irish, but time expired, giving Carolina the victory.

***Listen to the call***

Next up for the Tar Heels is a rematch with No. 4 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night.

Click here for the game photo gallery.

Final Box Score

Coach Williams addressing the crowd (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams addressing the crowd (Todd Melet)

http://chapelboro.com/unc-mens-basketball/tar-heels-9/

Hot Carolina Squad Hopes To Send Seniors Out On Top Against Notre Dame

The No. 19 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 22-7 overall and 12-4 in the ACC, will be aiming to make it twelve straight victories Monday night in the Smith Center when it takes on struggling Notre Dame, 15-15 on the season and 6-11 in the conference.

Head Coach Roy Williams says he credits some of the role players for keeping the Carolina winning streak alive.

“They really have bought in to the playing harder and the ‘sense of urgency’ idea I’ve talked about all year. I think one thing that’s been helpful, and I won’t say a surprise because that acts like you don’t care or don’t think your teammates can do something, but Joel [James] gave us three or four good minutes, Desmond [Hubert] gave us three or four good minutes. Those guys came in and gave us some good minutes,” Coach Williams says.

Some of the Tar Heel players have discussed the late-season fatigue they are feeling. Coach Williams, however, says that’s no excuse for not giving it everything you’ve got every time you step out on the floor.

“If you can’t get fired up 29 times there is something wrong with you. I don’t buy all that junk. Yet everybody says it. I think it’s a bunch of junk. If I get to play 29 games, I’m going to play my ‘blankenty-blank’ off 29 times,” Coach Williams says.

Paige eyeing the basket (Todd Melet)

Paige eyeing the basket (Todd Melet)

Notre Dame comes into Monday’s matchup off a narrow overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Fighting Irish 17-4 and won their most recent outing 73-62 at South Bend back on Feb. 8. It will be Notre Dame’s first trip to Chapel Hill since 1993.

Coach Williams says in the special seasons, you have to be able to pull out some games when you aren’t necessarily playing great basketball.

“We’ve won some games early. It hasn’t all been pretty well. You have to understand that sometimes you’re going to play really well and you hope you win those games. Sometimes, you could even lose those. To have a great year, you’ve got to win a lot of games ugly to be honest with you,” Coach Williams says.

Monday will mark the final home games for seniors Leslie McDonald, James Manor, Wade Moody and Denzel Robinson. It is sure to be an emotional night in the SmithCenter.

Coverage on 97.9 FM, WCHL begins at 5:30 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/hot-carolina-squad-hopes-send-seniors-top-notre-dame/

No. 3 Tar Heels Geared Up To Host No. 11 Fighting Irish In Lax Battle

The No. 3 Carolina men’s lacrosse team faces its first tough test in the season when it takes on No. 11 Notre Dame Saturday at 12 p.m. at Fetzer Field.

***Listen to the story***

UNC comes into the pivotal ACC matchup with a 3-0 record while Notre Dame enters the contest at 1-1 on the year.

Senior Frankie Kelly says the offensive ability of junior Joey Sankey is a difference maker for the Tar Heels.

“His skills that he brings to the table with his quickness and stick work – they’re unbelievable. He’s got a great level of toughness to get around the goal to finish shots inside with creativity and also he’s able to ride hard and to make the right plays to organize our offense. He’s been a great leader for us,” Kelly says.

***Listen to the interview with Frankie Kelly***

Kelly says having his little brother, Stephen Kelly, here on the team with him for one season has been a rewarding experience.

“It’s been really special. […] It’s been really cool. I think it’s been cool for my parents. It’s been cool for us. Even this last game against Dartmouth, we each got game balls. We both did pretty well facing off. To get that with him and to be able to give those game balls to our dad for his birthday, which was right around the same time, was really cool,” Kelly says.

Kelly says the Tar Heels understand the daunting task that the Fighting Irish present. But he says he thinks Carolina should be up to the challenge.

“Notre Dame’s a different level. We know that. They’re going to be really good defensively. With Cavanaugh in attack, he’s one of the best players in the country. We’re excited for the challenge. We’re excited to prove to people that our 3-0 start isn’t just the result of an easier schedule to start the year, but that we’re the real deal,” Kelly says.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/3-tar-heels-geared-host-11-fighting-irish-lax-battle/

No. 14 Tar Heels Can’t Keep Up With Explosive No. 2 Fighting Irish, Fall 100-75

The North Carolina women’s basketball team lost 100-75 at Notre Dame Thursday night to drop to 21-8 on the season and 9-6 in conference play.

With the victory, the Fighting Irish maintained their perfect record by improving to 28-0 overall.

Kayla McBride scored 28 points and Natalie Achonwa added 24 of her own to lead second-ranked Notre Dame to the win.

The Irish ran away from the Tar Heels, opening up with a big advantage and leading 55-38 at intermission. The Tar Heels attempted a rally in the second half with a 10-4 run that cut the lead to 61-51.

But that was as close as Carolina would get as Notre Dame pulled away later in the second half.

Notre Dame shot 52 percent against UNC, which had been holding opponents to 35-percent shooting.

Xylina McDaniel led the scoring charge for the Tar Heels with 18 points and Diamond DeShields posted 17. DeShields is now just one point shy of Erlana Larkin’s freshman record of 496 points scored in the 2004-05 season.

Next up for the Tar Heels is their season finale against Duke Sunday at 1 p.m. in Carmichael Arena. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Final Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/14-tar-heels-cant-keep-explosive-2-fighting-irish-fall/

No. 14 Carolina Faces Stiffest Test At Undefeated Notre Dame

The No. 14 North Carolina women’s basketball team, 21-7 on the season and 9-5 in the ACC, faces its toughest test this season at unbeaten and second-ranked Notre Dame on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Tar Heels have seemingly saved their best form for the biggest stages this season with top 10 road wins at Duke and NC State. In addition, Carolina claimed a neutral site victory in December over South Carolina, a top five-ranked team.

The Fighting Irish have already clinched the ACC regular season with two games to play this week.

UNC and Notre Dame have only met three times – all coming on neutral floors. The last meeting was a 60-51 Tar Heel victory in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

Strangely, Carolina has been better on the road this year, boasting an impressive 7-1 overall record, including 6-1 in conference play.

Notre Dame leads the ACC in shooting at 51.3 percent against North Carolina’s defense that has limited its opponents to a conference best 35.3 percent from the field. Something has to give Thursday night.

The game will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL and streamed online through ESPN3.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/14-carolina-faces-stiffest-test-undefeated-notre-dame/

Tar Heels Snag Fifth Straight Win, Slide By Fighting Irish 73-61

SOUTH BEND, Ind.– The North Carolina men’s basketball team fought past Notre Dame Saturday afternoon 73-61 to improve to 16-7 overall and 6-4 in the ACC.

***Listen to the story***

With the loss, the Fighting Irish fell to 12-12 on the year and 3-8 in conference action.

After a somewhat sluggish start, the Tar Heels got things rolling late in the first half, finishing on a 17-4 run and never relinquishing control of the contest from there.

Lethal in transition, Carolina converted on numerous fast break opportunities, but it was the intensity on the defensive side of the floor that really set the tone at the Purcell Pavilion.

It was balanced scoring for the Tar Heels with Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson and James Michael McAdoo all in double figures.

UNC Head Coach Roy Williams says he was excited about the important road ACC victory.

“We feel great. There’s no question about that. We survived their early start where they made their first four threes, and then after that we were fortunate they missed a bunch of them. I thought our team grew some today,” Coach Williams says.

***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame press conference***

Garrick Sherman led the way for the Irish with 17 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the determined Tar Heels on this afternoon.

Sherman got off to a quick start with some physical play inside and some deft touch off the glass as the Irish claimed the 6-2 lead with 16:50 to play in the half.

The 9-0 Notre Dame run ignited the crowd in Purcell Pavilion and staked the home team out to the 9-2 advantage.

Poor shooting was dooming Carolina’s efforts early, but Tokoto halted the cold spell to get UNC’s second basket of the contest.

Tokoto muscling his way to the basket. (Todd Melet)

Tokoto muscling his way to the basket. (Todd Melet)

Eric Atkins popped a three-pointer to extend the lead out to 13-4 with 13:20 on the first half clock. Paige responded with a floater that found the nets on the other end.

It was six points for Tokoto as he emerged as the scoring threat for the Tar Heels to keep UNC in the game, trailing 13-8 with 11:45 left in the half.

Paige nailed a beautiful jumper to close the gap to a mere three points at 13-10. But the Irish continued to rain in deep shots from behind the arc to spurt back out to the 19-10 lead with 8:10 to play.

Missed layups were beginning to pile up for Carolina, but an electric dunk by Brice Johnson placed the score at 19-15 in favor of the Irish with 7:02 on the first half clock. Somehow, the Tar Heels were staying with the Irish despite shooting just 35 percent in the face of Notre Dame’s 54 percent clip.

Sherman did work on Meeks to get to rim and dish in a basket to give Notre Dame the 21-18 advantage with 5:10 remaining in the opening half.

The Irish held the 23-18 lead when a timeout was called with under three minutes left on the first half clock. UNC was taking questionable shots. Head Coach Roy Williams was livid over court side.

Paige slid in a gutty layup around a couple Notre Dame defenders and then followed that up with a timely three-pointer. McAdoo added in a forceful jam to give the Tar Heels their first lead of the game at 25-23 with under two minutes to play in the half.

At the half, Carolina had worked out to 27-23 lead. UNC finished the first half on a 17-4 run.

The Tar Heels held the 21-15 edge in rebounding and was benefiting from Irish turnovers. Paige and Tokoto each scored 9 points while Notre Dame’s Sherman tossed in six points.

Carolina got off to a strong second half start with a hustle play and a heave by McAdoo to Leslie McDonald who finished the fast break opportunity. UNC was leading 29-25 with 18:16 remaining in the game.

Meeks scored on an effort-filled play to stake the Tar Heels out to a 33-25 advantage with 16:48 to play.

The Tar Heel defensive intensity was resulting in steals, one of which led to a breakaway dunk for McAdoo. Carolina led 37-28 with 15:40 remaining in the game.

McDonald splashed in a three-pointer to extend the UNC lead out to 12 points. McAdoo jammed one home in the paint, and the Tar Heel offense was rolling midway through the second half.

Johnson flew to the rim and with 13:28 to play, Carolina held the 44-30 advantage over the Irish.

A great put-back effort from McAdoo staked Carolina out to a 50-37 lead with 10:07 remaining in the game.

The offensive explosion continued with a couple more Paige conversions. UNC was in full control of the contest with the 57-41 advantage with 7:20 to play.

Paige providing a spark. (Todd Melet)

Paige providing a spark. (Todd Melet)

Notre Dame closed the margin down to eight points, but Carolina staved off the surge to push the margin back out to double digits thanks to a pair of promising McAdoo free throw makes with just under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Carolina held on for the victory, a perfect tune-up for the Duke game looming Wednesday.

You can view the full game photo gallery here.

Final Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar/