One and Done! Late Tar Heel Rally Falls Short Against Pitt

GREENSBORO – The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell 80-75 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon to drop to 23-9 overall on the season.

UNC vs. Pitt 060With the victory, Pittsburgh improved to 25-8 on the year and advanced to face top-seeded Virginia in Saturday’s semifinal round at 1 p.m.

“We had some chances. We really tried hard. Got it to four with the ball two different occasions and got it three and didn’t stop, but the kids tried exceptionally hard and they’re a wonderful bunch of kids. But we just didn’t play nearly as well as we wanted to play early,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game.

Pitt senior center Talib Zanna outrebounded the entire Carolina team until midway through the second half. In total, he grabbed 21 rebounds, tied for third-most in an ACC Tournament game. Zanna recorded his 11th double-double of the season.

Carolina fell behind 25-8 at the 7:14 mark to go in the first half and started off the contest 0-7 from the floor. It proved too much to overcome in the end.

As usual, UNC sophomore point guard Marcus Paige saved his best stuff for the end. He finished with a game-high 27 points, registering his 11th game with more than 20 points this season.

UNC vs. Pitt 044Sophomore Brice Johnson finished with 16 points for the Tar Heels, going a sharp 8-9 from the floor. James Michael McAdoo ended up with 15 points.

“I think we can learn from the things we did well in that last eight minute stretch. We played really well. We forced a lot of turnovers and we were able to make things happen with our traps, which will be helpful next week,” Paige said in his postgame remarks.

The Tar Heels closed within four points multiple times, but just couldn’t muster the strength to complete the gritty comeback effort.

Carolina finished the contest shooting 41 percent as a team while Pitt shot at a much better 54 percent clip. Additionally and crucially, the Panthers outrebounded the Tar Heels 43-35.

UNC vs. Pitt 035Senior Leslie McDonald had a disappointing ACC Tournament finale, fouling out in the second half with zero points.

Next up for the Tar Heels will be the NCAA Tournament. UNC will await its seeding and regional location this Sunday.

Click here to see the complete photo album.

Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/15-tar-heels/

ACC Tourney: Friday Fun (pt. I)

#1 UVA vs #9 FSU

First of all, I sit down for my seats for this thrilling quarterfinal Friday and what do I see? Yes. You guessed it. The FSU cheerleaders are conveniently located just to my right. Too much. SO excuse me if my game reactions are a bit off. I blame them.

Joe Harris didn’t take long to get going for the Cavaliers. FSU’s Okaro White responded with a three-point make from well outside. The Noles were here to give the Cavs a game, it appeared early.

FSU was playing extremely tight and aggressive defense. I liked it…a lot. On a side note, it looks like the Cavalier fans traveled really well – pretty proud of that No. 1 seed, eh?

But man, the turnovers were mounting for the Noles. They already have six here in the first half. Stop, make that seven. But they only trail by a pair of points!

I felt like Joe Harris needed a step ladder to shoot over Ojo of FSU out there. There were also some Oscar award-winning acting jobs on some flops out there. Bravo, players!

At the half, it was the Cavaliers with the 32-27 advantage. Anthony Gill and Joe Harris each reached double figures for UVA while FSU’s Okaro White tallied a team-leading 13 points for FSU.

Troubling for the Noles, however, were those nine turnovers. Luckily for them, though, the Cavaliers weren’t finding their way to the foul line – only one measly trip.

The Russian acrobatics at the half was not bad. I just wish she tried her hand at a trampoline dunk like yesterday – way more flexible than those dudes were.

I always crack up when coaches take a timeout right before the official media timeouts. Coach Leonard Hamilton for FSU apparently likes to crack me up.

UVA got to the foul line for only the second time in the entire game six minutes into the second half…say what?

The Cavaliers were racing away from the Noles midway through the second half, up 50-37. So many scoring threats. Too many, really.

Many of us in press row were just lamenting the impending loss of the ‘party animals’. (AKA the ‘Golden Girls’ and the rowdy FSU band)

UVA gained full control by doing what they do best – cause missed shots by the opponent and shoot the lights out of the ball from the floor.

FINAL: UVA 64 – FSU 51
#4 UNC vs. #5 Pitt

Well, the Carolina fans were having fun with their TAR—-HEELS chants before the game, but no so much after it started.

The Tar Heels started the game 0-7 from the floor and after closing to within one point, Pittsburgh went on a 17-1 run to claim a 25-8 lead with 7:14 remaining in the half.

Patterson and Zanna were dominating inside with their physicality and effort. But honestly, it looked like the Tar Heels just didn’t show up in Greensboro. As Roy says, “They couldn’t throw it in the ocean from the beach!”

Luckily for the Tar Heels, “second half Paige” made an appearance in the waning minutes of the first half. If not, the game would have got completely out of hand. Unfortunately for UNC, though, ALL of Pitt’s players were playing exceptionally well.

McAdoo got a last second basket to go. At intermission, Pitt led UNC 36-26.

The Panthers were shooting north of 50 percent from the floor while the Tar Heels were under a 40 percent clip.

James Robinson was having himself a day for Pitt, putting up 12 points in the first half. Johnson led the way for Carolina with eight points. The rebounds were 20-12 in favor of the Panthers.

The second half brought a higher sense of urgency for both the Carolina players and the fans in the crowd. Paige hurt his ankle/foot and was relegated to some time on the bike behind the UNC bench. He even left briefly to go to the locker room.

Paige got back on the floor after the under-16 media timeout. Shockingly, Pitt’s Zanna had 16 rebounds to Carolina’s total 16 rebounds as a team. That’s not a typo. That’s an ugly truth.

Roy Williams went off on the refs after an out of bounds call he absolutely hated. Assistant C.B. McGrath had to restrain him to avoid technical. But I think a technical wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world to fire up the Tar Heels!

Paige, in typical fashion, tried to rally the troops late in the game. The UNC defensive intensity was ratcheted up immensely, putting on a full court press. Nate Britt’s sloppy turnover on an inbound pass was costly for UNC – just as the Tar Heels were going on a little run.

But never fear. UNC continued to fight and turn Pitt over with the defensive pressure. This one got extremely interesting. The crowd finally had the chance to get loud, but when Paige fouled out with under a minute left, the Tar Heels lost their only perimeter shooting threat, effectively ending the game.

Pitt grabbed the victory and advanced to Semifinal Saturday to face top-seeded Virginia.

FINAL: PITT 80 – UNC 75

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/acc-tourney-friday-fun-pt/

No. 15 Tar Heels Embark on ACC Title Quest in Greensboro

The No. 15 North Carolina basketball team will begin its quest for an 18th ACC Tournament title Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.

***Listen to the story***

Head Coach Roy Williams speaks on his March Madness mentality.

“I’m one of those guys that operate on dreams and goals. That’s what I do. I don’t operate on sorrow. I do have big-time dreams and goals all the time. At tournament time, that’s where you can reach those dreams. Be led by your dreams, not pushed by your problems. We’ve all got problems, but this time of year I think you should be really enthused about your hope – what you might be able to do,” Coach Williams says.

Before Carolina gets to the Big Dance, the ACC party beckons.

Coach Williams says there’s really no tried and true predictor when it comes to equating ACC tournament success with NCAA runs. But he does believe good preparation always helps.

“My teams have taken me to seven Final Fours, and we’ve run the conference tournament one time out of those seven. I don’t think there’s a great correlation between winning, but I do think there’s a great correlation between playing well – that you gained some confidence. I think playing well does help,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto says he thinks this nearly week-long break since the regular season finale at Duke, has allowed his teammates to get healthy and regain the winning mindset back.

“Our guys will be back healthy. Our mindset should be set back to where we want it to be,” Tokoto says.

The Tar Heels will certainly be gunning for a fast start in the quarterfinal round. UNC is a perfect 17-0 when leading at halftime this season.

Tokoto soars (Todd Melet)

Tokoto soars (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson has been playing well of late on both sides of the floor. He hopes to continue his upward trajectory this weekend in Greensboro.

But Johnson says the key for the Tar Heels to regain their ‘mojo’ begins and ends with defense.

“Just remember how we started it at the beginning of that winning streak. We were clicking on all cylinders. We have to remember how we did that. […] It starts on defense – everybody getting to the right spots and doing the right things,” Johnson says.

Carolina has been to the ACC Championship game a record 32 times. Number 33 on Sunday would definitely do wonders for UNC’s seeding on the NCAA Selection Show later that evening.

But it all starts with Friday’s quarterfinal round. The Tar Heels own a 41-12 overall record in that stage of the Tournament.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/15-tar-heels-embark-acc-title-quest-greensboro/

Recharged Tar Heels Hoping To Save The Best For Last

The No. 15 Tar Heels have been busy recharging and refocusing for the stretch run that is March, full of tournament action that begins this week with the battle for the conference title.

***Listen to the story***

Sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto, who was named to All-ACC Defensive Team earlier this week, says the Tar Heels need to get back to the form they displayed in their 12-game winning streak.

“Ending out the regular season at Duke is pretty tough. No one wants to lose that game. But we did go on a 12-game winning streak before that. Leading into the ACC Tournament, we kind of look at those 12 wins and get back to what we were doing in those 12 wins and not so much in the Duke game,” Tokoto says.

Head Coach Roy Williams says he hopes his team isn’t satisfied with its recent regular season success and is instead, saving its best for last.

“Generally speaking, kids do get more enthused at tournament time. I’m pretty straightforward with them. I say, ‘Hey, we turned it around, but let’s not look back and say the highlight of our season is a three to four-week period in February,” Coach Williams says.

Coach Williams addressing the crowd (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams addressing the crowd (Todd Melet)

The offensive firepower of this year’s Carolina squad hasn’t been nearly as potent as in year’s past. Tokoto says that’s why the defensive side of things has become such a high priority.

“We don’t have as many offensive weapons as last year, but we still have guys that can put the ball in the basket when needed. Our defense has been way better than it was last year. We did lose some firepower, but I feel like we gained a lot of defensive intensity,” Tokoto says.

Tokoto says he’s hoping Carolina’s double bye into the quarterfinals will give the Tar Heels the fresher legs against a possibly fatigued opponent on Friday.

“I think it’s nice not to play as many games. Whoever we’re playing probably has played a game or two. They probably have some banged up guys or some fatigue. It will be interesting to see how that plays out,” Tokoto says.

Carolina sports a 90-42 all-time record in the ACC Tournament, but has only a 4-5 record as a No. 4 seed. UNC will be aiming to improve that record as a No. 4 seed this year and hoist up its first ACC championship trophy since 2008.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/recharged-tar-heels-hoping-save-best-last/

Paige, McAdoo, DeShields Get All-ACC Honors While Tar Heel Men, Women Holding Steady in Latest Polls

Carolina sophomore point guard Marcus Paige was named to the First Team All-ACC Basketball Team Monday. He joins Duke’s Jabari Parker, N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels.

Paige is the only ACC player to rank among the conference’s top six in scoring and assists. Paige has also scored at least 20 points in ten games this season. Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo was named to the All-ACC second team.

UNC women’s basketball star Diamond DeShields was named to the First Team All-ACC Basketball Team Monday as well. DeShields was the only freshman player to make the All-ACC squad.

As for this week’s rankings, the Tar Heels dropped one spot to No. 15 in both national polls following a win against Notre Dame and a loss at Duke Saturday night.

Florida remains the top team in the nation in both polls, collecting 50 out of the 65 first-place votes in the AP rankings. Undefeated and No. 2-ranked Wichita State received the other 15 votes for the top spot. Other notable ACC schools in the rankings are No.6/7 Duke and No. 11 Syracuse.

As for the women, the Tar Heels slid up one spot to No. 12 in the latest AP poll following an ACC Tournament semifinal showing.

Connecticut remains undefeated and ranked number one while ACC powerhouse Notre Dame sits at No. 2 following an ACC Tournament championship win Sunday.

Duke checks in at No. 9 following a runner-up finish to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament. 24-6 Maryland lands at No. 11 in the latest AP poll.

Click here for the complete men’s rankings.

Click here for the complete women’s rankings.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/paige-mcadoo-get-acc-honors-tar-heel-men-ranked-15-women-land-12-latest-polls/

No. 4 Duke Defends Home Court, Snaps No. 14 Carolina’s 12-Game Streak

DURHAM — The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell to hot-shooting No. 4 Duke 93-81 Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium to drop to 23-8 on the season and 13-5 in ACC play.

***Listen to the story***

With the victory, Duke improved to 24-7 overall and 13-5 in conference action. The Blue Devils also finished off a perfect season at home.

Freshman sensation Jabari Parker scored 30 points, the most by any Duke freshman against Carolina.

“I thought it was a tough night for us. I think listening to Mike’s (Coach K) comments after the last game, they didn’t have “it”. I agree with him. It’s hard to say what “it” is, but whatever the hell it is, Jabari found it,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams says.

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

Carolina’s Marcus Paige led the way for the Tar Heels with 24 points while Brice Johnson posted 15 of his own.

James Michael McAdoo got into severe foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul just one minute into the second half. His loss hampered the Tar Heels, but they managed to shoot 59.6 percent from the floor, the best all season.

The game was tight at the half, 40-37 in favor of Duke, thanks to some gritty play by the Tar Heels and poor shooting from behind the arc by the Blue Devils, going 2-13.

The second half, though, was a different story. Duke knocked down 6-10 three-pointers to pull away from Carolina and then hold on down the stretch with impressive foul shooting. Duke converted on 87.1 percent of its free throws.

After the game, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski credited his team’s rebounding advantage as a key to the victory. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Tar Heels 34-20.

***Listen to Coach K’s postgame remarks***

Duke drew first blood with a score by Rodney Hood and Andrew Dawkins was next to score for the Blue Devils to give the home team the 4-0 lead.

McAdoo  put the first points on the board for Carolina with a physical play inside. But Duke answered immediately to take the 7-2 lead with 17:30 to play in the half.

Tokoto knocked down a smooth jumper to close the gap down to three points. Dawkins sunk one on the other end and drew the foul, making the point after to give Duke the 10-4 lead.

With 15:43 to play in the half, the Blue Devils held the 10-4 advantage.  Turnovers were traded back and forth, until Duke broke the run with an inside score to take the 12-4 lead.

Brice Johnson cleaned up a rebound and tossed it in for a score to end a long drought for the Tar Heels. The defensive intensity by Duke was making life difficult for Carolina. Head Coach Roy Williams called a timeout.

A Johnson dunk briefly silenced the crowd. With 11:12 to play in the half, Duke had a 19-10 lead against UNC.

McAdoo knocked down a couple important free throws, but Carolina was finding it tough to stop the Blue Devil offensive attach. McAdoo nailed down a jumper as the shot clock was running out to close UNC within four.

McAdoo worked his way to the free throw line by pressing the issue in the paint. He knocked down both foul shots. Carolina trailed Duke 29-25 with 5:13 to go before halftime.

Carolina got some help from Paige and Johnson down the stretch as the halftime scoreboard read 40-37 in favor of the Blue Devils.

Duke only managed to shoot at a 15.4 percent clip from behind the arc while UNC shot 61.9 percent from the floor.

James Michael McAdoo recorded 11 points, but collected three fouls in the first half. Duke’s Jabari Parker tallied a team-leading 16 points.

Parker opened the second half with a make to ignite the Cameron crowd. And a sloppy turnover by UNC’s Johnson followed.

McAdoo picked up his fourth foul just one minute into the second half and promptly took a seat on the bench.  Hood darted to the basket, making the shot and converting on the point after for a three-point play. The Blue Devils held a 47-39 lead with 17:08 to play.

Kennedy Meeks went up soft inside and failed to get the basket to go, handing the ball back to Duke. With 16:26 to play, the Blue Devils held a 50-39 lead before McDonald popped a jumper through the nets to reduce the deficit back down to single digits.

Nate Britt hit a mid-range shot to keep UNC within shouting distance at 55-44 with 14:51 to play in the contest.

Cook’s run-out score pushed the Blue Devil lead out to 59-44 with 14:22 to play.

Tokoto defends Cook (GoHeels.com)

Tokoto defends Cook (GoHeels.com)

McDonald knocked down a three-pointer to close the Duke lead down to 13 points with 13:07 remaining. And Paige followed that score up with a determined make and Duke called a timeout up 62-51 with 12:44 to play.

Rodney Hood hit a wide-open three-pointer for Duke as the Carolina defense failed to contest the shot.

Joel James threw the ball away for an easy Duke score in transition. The game was quickly getting away from the Tar Heels.

Parker hit a jumper that slid through the nets off the rim to give Duke the 71-53 lead with 9:36 left to play.

Parker sniped another shot from behind the arc to push the Blue Devil lead out to 74-55 with 8 minutes remaining.

With 5:55 remaining in the game, Carolina trailed Duke 77-61. McAdoo responded with a quick score off the backboard.

Tokoto found an open lane and scored driving to the basket to cut the deficit down to 12 points with 3:55 on the clock.

Carolina cut the Duke lead down to ten points off a Johnson make inside. Britt committed a costly foul after the shot clock was drained all the way down. Duke’s Cook made both of them.

Paige converted on a three-point play to cut the Duke lead down to 81-73 with 2:41 to play.

The Carolina defense stiffened, causing a Duke turnover, but Paige’s shot fell short for the Tar Heels. Cook was fouled on the other end and knocked down both free throws to extend the lead back out to ten.

Parker battled his way to line, converting on both foul shots to give the Blue Devils full command of the contest yet again at 86-73 with 1:51 to play.

Paige fought admirably down the stretch, but the deficit was too much for the Tar Heels to overcome.

Next up for the Tar Heels is the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in Greensboro Friday. Carolina will be the fourth seed.

Final Box Score

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-4/

Carolina-Duke: Round Two at Cameron Indoor

The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 23-7 on the season and 13-4 in ACC play, will take on No. 4 Duke, 23-7 overall and 12-5 in conference, Saturday night at 9 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and as usual in this Tobacco Road Rivalry, there’s a lot on the line.

***Listen to the story***

Ahead of the Duke showdown, Head Coach Roy Williams says he’s seen some mental and emotional fatigue out of his team lately, but the coaching staff is encouraging the players to get excited for postseason play.

“I think mentally you just, ‘Gosh, you have to take a deep breath.’ You realize now is when we really get to start having some fun. So we try to talk about that a little bit, but they’ve got to handle it,” Coach Williams says.

Coach Williams says more than any other team they face, the Tar Heels have to make guarding the three-point shot a priority against Duke, an historically elite perimeter shooting program.

“They shoot so many and have been so successful – just look at their percentages. We pay more attention to that and try to emphasize it. You hope that when they miss that you can get something going on the offensive end and capitalize on that,” Coach Williams says.

When asked the best way to go about defending Duke’s Jabari Parker, a hot favorite for national rookie of the year, Coach Williams implied it was a nearly impossible task.

“You hope he sprains his ankle going up the steps. That’s the best way. I don’t mean that in any derogatory way, but that’s one way to guard him if he’s sitting over on the bench. He’s got the complete game,” Coach Williams says.

All jokes aside, it was Carolina’s defensive intensity that made the difference in the second half against Duke in the Tar Heels’ 74-66 home win on Feb. 20.

Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige says Carolina will need to reach their maximum potential Saturday night and play a complete 40 minutes of high-level basketball.

“We might have a little bit more of a margin of error than maybe earlier in the season. But at this time of the year against a team like Duke in Cameron, the margin of error is not very big. We understand if we play the way we have the past couple games, that’s not going to get it done,” Paige says.

Will McDonald's shots fall Saturday? (Todd Melet)

Will McDonald’s shots fall Saturday? (Todd Melet)

This year’s Tar Heel squad seemingly relishes the big-time games against elite national programs. Carolina’s game has shown brightest in the crucible of the national spotlight.

Senior Leslie McDonald says the toughness and cohesiveness of the team is put on display in the biggest games.

“We just have a mindset. If it’s a big-time team, we just come together closer. We have a mindset that we’re not going to back down. We’re going to give it our best shot and see if we can come out with the victory,” McDonald says.

With a victory Saturday, Carolina would assure itself of a three seed in next week’s ACC Tournament. A win coupled with a Syracuse loss in Tallahassee would mean UNC would snag the No. 2 seed next week. Few would have thought these scenarios possible just a few short weeks ago.

Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke 133-104 and is looking to complete a season sweep of the Blue Devils. That will be no easy task. Duke hasn’t lost back-to-back regular season games since Feb. 2009 and is a perfect 16-0 at home this season.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-duke-round-two-cameron-indoor/

Carolina’s Paige, McAdoo & McDonald Reloading For Duke Finale, Postseson

The No. 14 Carolina men’s basketball team takes on No. 4 Duke Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels defended their home court against the Blue Devils earlier this season, but a season sweep would be even sweeter.

***Listen to the story***

Carolina point guard Marcus Paige speaks on the need for the Tar Heels to regain Coach Williams’ famous “sense of urgency” as the Duke game and postseason play draws near.

“It meant more to them [Notre Dame] for the majority of the game. That can’t happen, especially because we’re a team close to the top of the ACC fighting for a third seed and a high seed in the Tournament. We can’t have that kind of effort,” Paige says.

Paige says Carolina’s level of play has dropped off a bit in the last couple games despite the victories. He says if the Tar Heels want to accomplish their big goals, they need to ratchet back up the intensity.

“That’s three or four in a row against teams we are capable of beating by a better margin than we have. That’s no knock on them, but we’ve been playing really well lately. If we have big goals and dreams, we can’t have all these sluggish games,” Paige says.

Despite Duke’s shocking loss to lowly WakeForest in Joel Coliseum Wednesday night, Carolina can expect the Blue Devils’ best to come out at Cameron Indoor Saturday night in primetime. After all, Duke is a perfect 16-0 at home this season.

With that being said, junior James Michael McAdoo says he doesn’t feel like he needs to go out there and “be Superman”. He says Carolina’s 12-game winning streak has given all the Tar Heels more confidence, loosening his scoring burden.

“I feel like all these last games have been important to us, especially starting the way we did in conference play. We realize the importance every time we step out there […I think the biggest thing for me personally is going out there, playing in my game and not trying to be Superman,” McAdoo says.

McAdoo hitting the hardwood (Todd Melet)

McAdoo hitting the hardwood (Todd Melet)

Senior Leslie McDonald says this lull in game activity after the Notre Dame win Monday comes at just the right time for the Tar Heels. He says it helps some banged up players recover and be primed for the Duke showdown.

“We’re going to be able to rest our bodies a little bit, go back to practice, evaluate ourselves and have hard practices to prepare us for Duke. I think it’s a wonderful time,” McDonald says.

With a win on Saturday, Carolina would claim not only a season sweep of their bitter rivals, but also claim a top three seeding in the ACC Tournament next week.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolinas-paige-mcadoo-paige-reloading-duke-finale-postseson/

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/

Hoops Rankings Update: Tar Heel Men, Women Both In Top 15, ACC Schools Shining

The North Carolina men’s basketball team has jumped up five spots to No. 14 in the latest AP poll released Monday.

Following a week featuring a pair of ACC road victories over N.C. State and Virginia Tech, 22-7 Carolina continues its climb up the national rankings.

The ACC is featured prominently in the rankings, with three schools in the top seven. 23-6 Duke checks in at No. 4 while ACC regular season champion Virginia closely follows at No. 5 with 26-3 Syracuse falling to No. 7.

27-2 Florida remains the nation’s top-ranked squad this week, but the Gators are closely trailed by undefeated Wichita State. The Shockers received 14 first-place votes.

Also of note, the North Carolina Central Eagles, sitting at 23-5 on the season with a win over N.C. State and a competitive loss to Wichita State, received one vote in the rankings for the second week in a row.

As for the women, the Tar Heels slid up a rung to No. 13 in the latest AP poll. At 22-8, Carolina has been riding the ups and downs this season with big-time wins, like Sunday’s against Duke, being met with head scratching losses.

As for the rest of the ACC, undefeated No. 2 Notre Dame trails only Connecticut in the national polls while 24-5 Maryland lands a spot at No. 8 while 25-5 Duke checks in at No. 10.

Click here for the complete men’s rankings.

Click here for the complete women’s rankings.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/hoops-rankings-update-tar-heel-men-women-top-15-acc-schools-shining/