Marcus Paige Named to Academic All-District Team

UNC senior guard Marcus Paige has been named to the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District team.

The College Sports Information Directors of America announced the team on Thursday.

Members of the district teams are up for consideration for the 2016 Academic All-America team, which will be announced later this month.

Paige is a two-time second-team Academic All-America.

Paige won the Skip Prosser Award last year, which is give to the top men’s basketball scholar athlete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Duke’s Grayson Allen was also named to the All-District team, comprised of selections from North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Brice Johnson Among 20 Finalists for Wooden Award

UNC senior forward Brice Johnson has been named to the John R. Wooden Award Top 20 list.

The Los Angeles Athletic Club announced the list this week.

The award is given annually to the national player of the year.

Johnson leads Carolina this season as he is posting career highs in points (16.3) and rebounds (10.2) per game.

Johnson also leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and field goal percentage at 60.7 percent.

These accolades didn’t mean Johnson was immune to the starting lineup shakeup from coach Roy Williams against Boston College, as Williams sat the usual frontcourt of Justin Jackson, Johnson an Kennedy Meeks to begin the game.

Duke’s Grayson Allen, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon and Damion Lee from Louisville are the other ACC players among the finalists.

Voting for the award begins at the end of the season, and the 40th annual Wooden Award will be handed out at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in early April.

Tar Heels Rally to Beat BC After Williams’ Vertigo Scare

For close to 37 minutes on Tuesday night, all hope looked lost for the struggling No. 9 UNC men’s basketball team.

Vertigo sent head coach Roy Williams to the locker room in the second half, and the Tar Heels trailed Boston College all game long.

However, a late rally gave the team a much-needed road win, snapping a two-game losing streak by a score of 68-65 over the Eagles.

Not until it was almost too late did UNC look like a team widely thought to be among the best in the nation.

UNC head coach Roy Williams suffered a vertigo attack during the second half and did not return. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne)

UNC head coach Roy Williams suffered a vertigo attack during the second half and did not return. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne)

Boston College, the squad at the bottom of the ACC standings with a record of 7-17 and 0-11 in the conference, scored the game’s first basket and held on to at least a share of the lead until the Tar Heels ended the game on a 19-9 run under the leadership of assistant coach Steve Robinson.

Even though UNC, at 20-4 and 9-2 in the ACC, moved back into sole possession of first place in the league, Williams’ health scare dominated the postgame discussion.

“I’m alive, and I’m kicking,” the coach told reporters. “I’m not well, mentally. I’ve had some vertigo attacks over the last 17 or 18 years—this is the first time I’ve really had one during a game.

“It’s called benign positional vertigo,” he continued. “I’ve been diagnosed at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Kansas, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and Chapel Hill Hospital—all three.”

Williams collapsed on the sideline during a timeout huddle with just over 14 minutes left in the game. He angrily turned his head around after a disagreement with the referee and the quick, jerking motion triggered the attack.

Robinson, who has been an assistant to Williams for 21 years—both at Kansas and UNC, showed great poise down the stretch, never appearing flustered amidst all the chaos.

“We work for a great guy,” Robinson said. “He has us prepared. I’ve always said going into each and every game that I should always be prepared [in case] he gets sick, or he gets tossed in a game—[so] I can just step right in.”

Much of the chatter surrounding the Tar Heels recently has focused on senior guard Marcus Paige, as he finally snapped out of a six-game shooting slump in Saturday’s loss at Notre Dame.

He had 12 points and hit a trio of three-pointers against the Eagles in this game, but it was another slumping teammate—sophomore Justin Jackson—whose 20 points off the bench led the way.

It was the first game all year in which Jackson and senior forward Brice Johnson did not start, as Williams sat them and junior Kennedy Meeks in search of a spark for the team.

“He responded the way you’d like a guy to respond,” Robinson said of Jackson. “He competed. He played hard. He was involved. He got his shot to go.

“Marcus hit a big three for our team,” he added, referencing the long-ball Paige drilled to put UNC ahead 62-60 with 1:47 left. “And we had a lot of guys make a lot of plays.”

Justin Jackson's 20 points led the Tar Heels past Boston College on Tuesday. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne)

Justin Jackson’s 20 points led the Tar Heels past Boston College on Tuesday. (AP Photo/ Stew Milne)

Johnson and Meeks combined for just 11 points and 12 rebounds, but UNC got back on track with its shooting—finishing above 50 percent for the second time in its last seven games, both against Boston College.

Senior guard Eli Carter kept the Eagles competitive by scoring 26 points and hitting five three-pointers, continuing a trend of great perimeter shooting by Tar Heel opponents.

But as the game reached its conclusion, Robinson and the UNC players had Williams on their mind and simply would not be denied.

“He’s like a brother to me and he coached his buns off tonight,” Williams said about his longtime assistant. “And my kids played their rear ends off.

“I was very concerned because I didn’t want to be a distraction.

“I’ll be fine,” he continued. “I’m not dead yet.”

Up Next:

After going 1-2 on this three-game road trip, the Tar Heels return to the Dean Dome for their next game, a Valentine’s Day matinee against Pittsburgh (17-6, 6-5 ACC).

Game Notes:

  • UNC allowed 40 combined second chance points in the losses to Louisville and Notre Dame but allowed only six tonight, including zero in the second half.
  • Boston College led by six at the half, UNC’s largest halftime deficit of the season. The Tar Heels are now 3-1 this year when trailing at the break.
  • It is the 57th 20-win season in school history, and the 12th in Roy Williams’ 13 years.
  • Williams left with the team and traveled back to Chapel Hill.



UNC Looking to Rebound from Back to Back Losses

The UNC men’s basketball team is looking to get back on the winning track against Boston College after two road losses last week.

Coming off of losses at Louisville and at Notre Dame, Carolina dropped to No. 9 in the latest AP Poll.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says it is a priority for his team to step up intensity to close out the rest of the regular season.

“I’m more frustrated, more mad I guess than anything, because we’ve got to be willing and able to step up,” Williams says. “And that’s my job. I’ve got to get them to step up and match that intensity and match that intensity being maintained at a high level throughout the course of the entire game.”

Williams says, while there were moments he was pleased with how the Tar Heels played last week, the games against Louisville and Notre Dame were mainly controlled by the home teams.

“For the majority of the game, both those teams dictated things to us,” Williams says, “and made us play a lot worse than we wanted to play, to say the least. But it’s two good wins for them, two big losses for us.”

Williams says working out the flaws that have plagued the Tar Heels in recent games starts with watching film and understanding the mistakes.

“We’ve probably watched more tape with this team than we have any team in the 13 years I’ve been here,” Williams says. “At some point though, somebody’s got to step up and do the job.”

Moving forward, the Tar Heels take on Boston College on Tuesday night. UNC beat the Eagles in Chapel Hill less than two weeks ago.

“They turned the ball over so much, and we got so many points off of turnovers. It was a huge factor for us,” Williams says.

While there were some positive moments, including a 15-point first half lead at Notre Dame, Williams says he is still working to find answers to this team’s remaining questions.

“If I knew that, we wouldn’t have had the losses at Notre Dame and at Louisville,” he says. “But you’ve got to go into every day at practice and do the best you can do and see if we can play better.”

Carolina will face another road test at Boston College Tuesday night with tipoff slated for eight o’clock. WCHL’s coverage will begin with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff at 6:30.

UNC Drops to No. 9 in AP Poll

UNC men’s basketball dropped seven spots to No. 9 in the latest AP poll.

The Tar Heels lost to Louisville and Notre Dame over the course of the last week, after starting Atlantic Coast Conference play 8-0.

Carolina now sits at 19-4 on the season after the back-to-back losses. The Tar Heels will be looking to get back in the win column when the team travels to Boston College to take on the Eagles Tuesday night.

UNC beat Boston College 89-62 in the Dean E. Smith Center on January 30.

Villanova jumped from third to the top of the rankings after former No. 1 Oklahoma lost again last week.

Villanova is followed by Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa and Xavier in the top five.

Virginia is the highest ranked ACC team at No. 7, followed by UNC at nine and the Miami Hurricanes at 12. Louisville, which beat UNC last Monday before announcing a self-imposed postseason ban for a scandal involving escorts, is No. 13 in the newest poll.

No other ACC teams cracked the top 25.

Carolina’s game at Boston College is scheduled for an eight o’clock tipoff Tuesday night. Coverage will begin with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff on 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL at 6:30.

No. 2 UNC Blows 15-Point Lead, Loses to Notre Dame

While shooting woes doomed the No. 2 UNC men’s basketball game in its loss to Louisville on Monday, another of last season’s critical issues—the inability to close out games—resurfaced in Saturday night’s 80-76 loss at Notre Dame.

Despite building a 15-point lead in the first half, the Tar Heels slowly fell apart down the stretch as the Fighting Irish (16-7, 7-4 ACC) rallied to hand them their second consecutive loss following a 12-game win streak.

Now 19-4 this year, UNC falls into a tie atop the ACC standings with Louisville—who banned itself from postseason play—at 8-2 in the conference.

Brice Johnson had 14 points and 14 rebounds, but it was not enough to hold off Notre Dame. (AP Photo/ Robert Frankling)

Brice Johnson had 14 points and 14 rebounds, but it was not enough to hold off Notre Dame. (AP Photo/ Robert Frankling)

The Tar Heels finished the game shooting 45 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point range, but head coach Roy Williams was not too pleased with the hustle stats.

“Their coach [Mike Brey] did a lot better of a job getting his guys to play with a great deal of intensity than I did,” Williams said after the game. “Look down there and see 19 points off turnovers for them, zero for us. Twenty-three second chance points for them, 13 for us. Thirty-eight foul shots for them, 21 for us.

“I’ve got to do a heck of a lot better getting our club to play with more intensity than we did,” he added.

Those effort plays crippled the Tar Heels on a night where senior guard Marcus Paige finally broke a six-game cold streak by scoring 21 points and nailing five three-pointers—the same amount of long-balls he hit during the entire slump.

Four of those threes sparked his team to the big lead that had them feeling like it had solved its one major issue.

The Fighting Irish simply outworked UNC the rest of the way–leaving Williams unable to explain what happened.

“Right now I don’t know if I can see my hand in front of my face, so I have no idea,” the coach said, after being asked if he liked his team’ intensity level in the first half. “I’ll look at it on tape.”

“It was easy early, and I’ve got a wonderful bunch of kids—but we’ve gotta decide that we wanna compete when it’s tough, not just when it’s easy.”

All five of Notre Dame’s starters scored in double figures, led by 19 each from guard Demetrius Jackson and forward Bonzie Colson. Colson’s partner in the frontcourt, Zach Auguste, had 15 points and 10 rebounds—including one on the offensive end where he grabbed the ball in front of four Tar Heels.

What’s impressive about these stats though, is that as a team the Fighting Irish made under 35 percent of their shots—or about as many as UNC made in its loss to Louisville.

The easy conclusion says the Tar Heels failed to show the killer instinct necessary when they had the chance to close this one out.

Notre Dame forward Zach Auguste dominated the glass all night. (AP Photo/ Robert Franklin)

Notre Dame forward Zach Auguste dominated the glass all night. (AP Photo/ Robert Franklin)

“Well, you know, the thing about it is—we can get up, but this is a tough league,” Williams said. “It’s not just about us. Notre Dame got up as well.

“The world’s not gonna come to an end, but right now I’m extremely frustrated.”

UNC junior guard Nate Britt sat out of the game with an illness, and it was clear the team could have used his defensive prowess and energy as the game wore on.

And although Brice Johnson picked up a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, no other Tar Heel had more than four boards.

All of these stats combined help illustrate just how unsettling this loss should be moving forward, but Williams refused to let his players take the blame.

“The head coach didn’t do a very good job,” Williams said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Up Next:

UNC will have a prime opportunity to end this losing streak in its next game–a road contest against the ACC’s last place team, Boston College. That game will take place on Tuesday Feb. 9.

Game Notes:

  • Notre Dame’s two turnovers are the fewest against a Roy Williams coached UNC team (previous was four on three occasions).
  • Thirty-one made free throws by Notre Dame were the second most by opponents against a Roy Williams coached Tar Heel team.
  • Johnson now has 14 double-doubles this season for UNC in 23 games.



Tar Heels Look To Break Out Of Slump Once Again

For the first time since losing in the ACC Championship Game in March, the Tar Heels will take on Notre Dame.

Head coach Roy Williams said he expects his team to come out with more intensity when they travel to South Bend Saturday.

“Well you know we got our tails beat last game,” he said. “If you don’t step up right now there’s something wrong with you.”

Once again the Tar Heels look to break out of shooting slump that has plagued them for the past five games.

After shooting over 50 percent from the field in the majority of games before this stretch, the Tar Heels have shot under 40 percent in each of the past five games.

Point guard Marcus Paige is just 4-30 from three during this stretch.

Williams said he hasn’t seen anything like this slump since his first year at Kansas in 1988, when current Minnesota Timberwolves general manager Milt Newton had a rough shooting stretch.

“I just know at the end of the year at Oklahoma State, they had not lost a game at home,” Williams said. “we’re down two and we’ve got the  basketball and I said ‘let’s take this Milt, knock this sucker in and get the crap out of town.’ We went for three to win the game, he made the three and we got the crap out of town. That’s the only time I can remember something like this.”

Even forward Isaiah Hicks, who leads the team in field goal percentage, is coming off a 2-8 game in which he scored 8 points.

“Everybody would like to make every shot they shoot, but it don’t work like that,” Hicks said. “Even me I missed a lot of layups and stuff. Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it don’t.”

Hicks said the Tar Heels need to be patient and the shots will start falling again.

“We were kind of thinking about it too much,” he said. “Trying to force us to make shots but it doesn’t work like that. It’s going to fall sometime.”

Tip off on Saturday is at 7 p.m. Make sure to tune into WCHL starting at 5:30 for all of your pregame coverage. Joey DeVito 97.9 FM WCHL.

Former Tar Heels Give Water For Flint Crisis

Former Tar Heels Hakeem Nicks and Rasheed Wallace have both donated water to people affected by the Flint water crisis, according to reports.

Wallace played for the Detroit Pistons from 2004-2009. Nicks is currently a wide receiver for the New York Giants.

Two years ago the state of Michigan, in a money saving decision, moved Flint’s water supply from Lake Hurton to the Flint River.

In order to make the water from the Flint River safe to drink, the government needed to add an anti-corrosive agent, which a class-action lawsuit alleges they did not do.

Brice Johnson Named Finalist For Karl Malone Award

Brice Johnson has been named one of 10 finalists for the Karl Malone Award, given annually to the nation’s top power forward.

Johnson is putting up 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, leading the Tar Heels in both.

If Johnson’s pace continues he will be the first Tar Heel to average a double-double since John Henson averaged 11.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in the 2010-2011 season.

In March, the list will be narrowed to five finalists and the winner will be announced April 8.

Other Finalists:

Ryan Anderson (Arizona)

Taurean Prince (Baylor)

Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga)

Georges Niang (Iowa State)

Perry Ellis (Kansas)

Shawn Long (Louisiana-Lafayette)

Henry Ellenson (Marquette)

Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State)

Jameel Warney (Stony Brook)

Cold-Shooting Tar Heels Fall to No. 19 Louisville on the Road, 71-65

The No. 2 UNC men’s basketball team has earned a reputation for having great depth and the ability to win ugly games.

On Monday night, though, the Tar Heels may have played with fire for a little too long—shooting a season-low 34 percent in a 71-65 road loss to the No. 19 Louisville Cardinals, snapping a 12-game win streak.

As shot after shot clanged off the rim against the Cardinals’ high-pressure defense, UNC head coach Roy Williams could only watch as the clock hit triple zeroes and Louisville’s players dabbed in celebration after handing the ACC’s only unbeaten team its first conference loss after an 8-0 start.

Brice Johnson scored 15 points, but was held to just six attempts by the Louisville defense. (AP Photo/ Timothy D. Easley)

Brice Johnson scored 15 points, but was held to just six attempts by the Louisville defense. (AP Photo/ Timothy D. Easley)

Williams’ squad might be 19-3 overall, with all three losses coming on the road, but it’s shot under 40 percent in four of its last five games—forcing him to point out the obvious, and then explain what happened.

“We didn’t put the ball in the basket,” he said, after the game. “But their zone made it difficult for us to get it inside to our big guys.”

Senior forward Brice Johnson put together another double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but was limited to just six shots against the Cardinals—who improve to 18-4 this season with a 7-2 mark in the ACC.

His partner-in-crime, Kennedy Meeks, only scored four points on four shots while held to just 18 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble.

Yet the Tar Heels still had a shot to win the game at the end—a testament to how well they find new ways to get the job done.

Down two points with just 35 seconds left, UNC grabbed three offensive rebounds during that final span—but couldn’t make the clutch plays this time.

All five Tar Heel shots after that point, including three at the rim, couldn’t find their way home– failing to produce any late-game magic.

“On the last play of the game—and I’ve never loved a player more than I have Marcus [Paige]—but we tipped it out and he goes after the ball with one hand,” Williams said. “Their guy comes in with two and gets the rebound.

“Kennedy [Meeks] goes up to get a rebound, and Trey Lewis—one of their guards—goes up to get a rebound and he came over [Meeks’] back and got the ball, knocked it out,” he continued. “I thought it was our ball, should have been a foul.

“But the referee saw it differently.”

One thing that wasn’t hard to see on Monday was that Paige, the senior guard, is still the poster boy for his team’s recent shooting slump. He made just three of his 13 attempts against Louisville, but continued to play strong in other areas–and his coach made sure to let everyone know.

“He hasn’t shot it worth a frankety-frank for the last four or five games,” Williams said of Paige. “Am I supposed to put him out and send him to Siberia?

“He’s one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached,” he added. “I’m gonna stick with him, I’m gonna coach him, and he’s gonna try to take shots.

Damion Lee, who had 24 points for Louisville, dunks over Joel Berry. (AP Photo/ Timothy D. Easley)

Damion Lee, who had 24 points for Louisville, dunks over Joel Berry. (AP Photo/ Timothy D. Easley)

“But I don’t have any potion I can rub on people.”

The biggest shock to Tar Heel fans was that the poor-shooting bug found sophomore point guard Joel Berry, who’s become the team’s most consistent backcourt player this season.

“Joel Berry’s been shooting it pretty doggone well,” Williams said. “And he’s 1-for-10 tonight, 1-for-5 from three. We need a little bit better than that.”

With a lid seemingly stuck on the basket for everyone not named Damion Lee—the Louisville forward who scored a game-high 24 points–it made beating a ranked team on the road that much tougher.

UNC played strong down the stretch, but ultimately ran out of gas in front of the raucous crowd, which stayed extremely loud throughout the game in support of their Cardinals.

“I felt like we had a sense of urgency,” Williams said of UNC’s performance. “But their sense of urgency was a little better than ours.”

Up Next:

Two more road games await the Tar Heels following this one on their challenging February schedule, including this Saturday against Notre Dame.

At some point the shots will have to start falling. If they don’t UNC could find itself in a little bit of troube.

Monday proved that elite competition doesn’t leave anywhere near as much room for error.

Game Notes:

  • UNC is now 2-3 this season in games where Berry doesn’t score in double figures. When he does, the Tar Heels are 17-0.
  • For the game, UNC shot 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from three-point range.
  • The Tar Heels also committed a season-high 16 turnovers.
  • Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku shot his eight free throws underhanded.