The Carolina-Kentucky Cold War

Here in Chapel Hill, during basketball season, the motto has always been that championships are won by playing “The Carolina Way.”

A phrase coined by legendary coach and hall of famer Dean Smith, “The Carolina Way” came to be revered as a national model for how to run a successful college basketball program. Players came to school to stay in school. They played for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back. Championship teams were built with integrity over the long haul. The legends knew they would be revered as local heroes forever.

The national title-clinching jumper by a freshman named Michael Jordan, Eric Montross going to the foul line with blood flowing down his forehead, Danny Green soaring over Greg Paulus for a dunk that silenced Cameron Indoor; they’re all moments that are etched in Tar Heel lore, but moments that feel oh so long ago.

The game simply doesn’t work that way anymore. Times have changed.  Nowhere will that be more evident than noon-time this Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Heard of this guy? (

Heard of this guy? (

The instituting of the NBA’s age limit kicked off the “one and done” era of college hoops, and no school has used that rule to their advantage as much as coach John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. A revolving door for the top prospects in the nation year in and year out, Kentucky is not a college basketball team. They are a professional basketball factory that churns out NBA players on an assembly line. These guys come to campus to become all-stars, not scholars, and certainly not college heroes.

This season, on the way to the top national ranking and an unblemished 10-0 record, the Wildcats have demolished opponents by an average of 30 points a game, with nobody coming closer than 10 points. Analysts can’t stop gushing about their “platoon system.” Five guys come in and five guys come out every four minutes. Of their ten rotation players, nine were high-school All-Americans. Only one player is smaller than 6’6”. Their coach claims they don’t have substitutions, just reinforcements. With a national title in 2012 and an appearance in the championship game just last season, Kentucky has proven to the nation that, for better or for worse, titles these days seem to come “The Kentucky Way.”

Five Kentucky players check in (

Five Kentucky players check in (

The Tar Heels (6-2) will come in to this matchup as huge underdogs, just like Rocky Balboa against Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.  Rocky went into the fight as the champ, but he was past his prime and on the down-side of his career. Carolina will arrive in Lexington with a great past filled with history and championships, but also not quite at its peak.

Kentucky, on the other hand, comes in looking like a mirror image of Drago, a beefed-up super-human ready to crush anything in its path.

Rocky and Drago served as symbols for the United States and the Soviet Union, much as UNC and Kentucky each represent their own “way” of program-building. With the tides already beginning to shift in college basketball, Calipari and his boys are looking to validate their methods by making a statement against a Tar Heel squad that has looked shaky in recent weeks. Don’t be surprised if you catch UK’s 7 foot center Willie Cauley-Stein staring down Kennedy Meeks at tip-off by saying “I must break you.”

How Kentucky has looked so far this year (MGM)

How Kentucky has looked so far this year (MGM)

UNC coach Roy Williams came away from his team’s loss last week to Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge questioning his players’ effort level. Players lazily went through the motions on offense, often times stopping to watch as Marcus Paige hoisted yet another contested jumper from deep. Shot after shot clanged off the rim en route to shooting below 30 percent. While Coach Williams has also proclaimed this to be one of the best offensive rebounding squads he’s ever had, it’s become very clear to opponents that outside shooting is this team’s Achilles (Tar)Heel. There just simply isn’t enough shooting talent on this team.

The battle on the boards becomes crucial if Carolina’s outside shooting woes continue.  Forward Brice Johnson, coming off a 19-point, 17-rebound performance in a win over East Carolina, will need to find a way to crash the offensive glass for put-backs against a much larger Wildcat frontcourt. Even with his offseason weight-loss, Kennedy Meeks’ stamina will be seriously tested against the platoon system, so it may become crucial for UNC to find another source of rebounding off the bench, such as Joel James or Isaiah Hicks.

Marcus Paige has often struggled creating space against big guards like Kentucky’s Andrew and Aaron Harrison, however, he remains the Tar Heels’ only respectable threat from the three-point line to this point in the season.  It remains to be seen what kind of consistent offensive contributions will come from freshmen Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson, but as defenses continue to pack the paint and force UNC to shoot from outside, any production they provide from outside could be the key to not only this game, but the entire rest of the season.


Brice Johnson reacts with Joel James against ECU (Todd Melet)

Brice Johnson reacts with Joel James against ECU (Todd Melet)

At a time when it’s clear that college basketball has changed forever, this game between two of the top three winningest programs of all-time will be a portrait of two different eras, the old and the new. Kentucky will play at home as heavy favorites against a Carolina team that has been plagued not only by effort and the recent academic scandal, but also by a refusal to make changes to its sacred “Carolina Way.”

Even Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has adapted his style of recruiting to appeal to “one and done” type prospects in order to re-enter the national title competition after long refusing to change his own program’s once sacred ways.

The truth is, though, as we all remember, Rocky beat Ivan Drago. When he did, he won the support of the Russian crowd by declaring, in that thick Sylvester Stallone voice, that “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!”

For the Tar Heels to rise from their recent dark spot, they may just need to take a lesson from the Champ. It may be time for Carolina to change its Way.


Game Notes: UNC won last year’s meeting 82-77 at the Smith Center, and holds a 23-13 lead in the all-time series between the two teams. UNC has been to 18 Final Fours (most all-time), while UK has been to 15 (T-3rd all-time). Kentucky has the most wins in college basketball history, while Carolina is 3rd on that list.

Underdog Tar Heels Take On Top-Ranked Wildcats

The No. 21 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 6-2 on the season, faces its toughest test of the season Saturday afternoon inside Rupp Arena. The No. 1 and undefeated Kentucky Wildcats are a force to be reckoned with.

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The head-to-head series between the winningest and third-winningest college basketball programs continues with the 33rd meeting this weekend.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says Brice Johnson’s dominant play on the boards will need to become a consistent feature of the team if the Tar Heels are going to take down elite opponents like Kentucky.

Johnson will need to physical Saturday (Todd Melet)

Johnson will need to physical Saturday (Todd Melet)

“We need Brice and Kennedy [Meeks] to rebound the ball like that. We still got to do a better job rebounding and boxing out. We were into it mentally. We’ve got to have that same kind of attitude every night,” Coach Williams says.

Coach Williams says he really got upset at Johnson for his poor play before his explosive game against ECU last weekend. But he says, at the end of the day, it’s Johnson who needs to demand more out of himself than anybody else.

“I’m getting to be old. I can’t stay mad all the dadgum time. He’s got be able to do that himself. His rebounding today [vs. ECU] was really impressive. He rebounded the ball in a crowd and didn’t act like a little wimp. He did better things defensively too. It does gnaw at me, but I want it to gnaw at him. If it gnaws at him, the results are a whole heck of a lot better,” Coach Williams says.

One talented player who still appears to be waiting in the wings is sophomore Isaiah Hicks. Coach Williams says he needs more from the 230-pound forward.

“I think he [Hicks] listened when I was telling those guys on the bench that we don’t need big guys to shoot jump shots. He took the ball to the basket. We need Isaiah to be a big-time player for us,” Coach Williams says.

Many have discussed the possibility of a smaller UNC starting lineup that would include two de facto point guards – Nate Britt and Marcus Paige. Would the Tar Heels ever consider such a lineup?

Assistant coach C.B. McGrath doesn’t rule it out.

“We talk about all those kind of things. Whether Nate’s played well enough to go into the starting lineup and move Marcus to the two, I don’t know. If the game’s on the line, Nate’s playing well and Marcus is shooting the ball, we’ll probably have Nate and Marcus in the game at the same time,” McGrath says.

Coach Williams isn’t opposed to applying the heat to his players. He’s continually called out the big men on UNC’s roster, pleading for them to step up.

“I’ve said the big guys have to step up. When they step up and be really big-time players, we’re really a good basketball team. That’s putting a lot of pressure on guys, but heck, it’s college basketball at the highest level. If you want to be good, your best players have to step up and play,” Coach Williams says.

John Calipari and Cauley-Stein (Chris Reynolds)

John Calipari and Cauley-Stein (Chris Reynolds)

The Tar Heels will definitely have their hands full against UK head coach John Calipari’s uber-talented roster that rivals an NBA team for size and length.

Coach Calipari has so much depth he employs a ‘platoon system’ that consists of shuffling alternate lineups on and off the floor to wear down opponents and get all of his potential NBA draft picks a chance to shine for scouts.

UNC junior forward Brice Johnson says juggling final exams doesn’t make the preparation any easier, but he’s confident his teammates will be fired up for the showdown Saturday.

“I have all week to prepare for these tests, and we have all week to prepare for Kentucky. We just have to even them out as much as we can, but put a little more into the academic side than the basketball side. By Saturday, we’ll be ready for it,” Johnson says.

UNC leads the all-time series 23-13 and won the most recent encounter, 82-77, in 2013.

But this time around, the up-and-down Tar Heels will be playing a part they’re not too familiar with – as heavy underdogs against the near-consensus national championship pick.

Meeks, Defense Dominate As Tar Heels Handle Davidson

It may be early in the season, but the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s defense already has the makings of being something quite special.

It sure looked that way on Saturday afternoon as the No. 6 ranked Tar Heels handled Davidson 90-72. at Time Warner Cable Arena.

UNC improved to 3-0 by holding the Wildcats to a shade below 34 percent shooting overall and taking a double-digit lead in the first half that was never really threatened by Bob McKillop’s team, which fell to 2-1.

“I thought it was our best defensive game of the season,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams says. “I was very pleased with their effort.”

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Coach Williams reacts (Todd Melet)

Peyton Aldridge sizzled in the early going, however, netting eight of his game-high 25 points in the first 4:15 of the contest as the ‘Cats took a 12-7 lead.

The Tar Heels then started to exert command, going on an 8-0 run punctuated by a Marcus Paige layup and Theo Hinson dunk for a 15-12 advantage.

Jordan Barham’s layup brought the Wildcats within 18-16 near the midway point of the opening half, but the Tar Heels went on a 28-16 run to take a 46-34 lead into the break.

Kennedy Meeks was the key component to the Tar Heels success, dominating down low with three layups in the stretch while the Wildcats settled for mostly outside jumpers.

Meeks had a monster game in finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals and two blocks. He was joined in double-figure scoring by Justin Jackson (18), Marcus Paige (13) and J.P. Tokoto (10).

Jackson says defense came first, despite his individual scoring outburst.

“Our biggest thing was to cover the three-point line since that was their game plan,” Jackson says. “We kept after it and didn’t pay attention to the scoreboard either.”

Aldridge had little help from his Wildcats teammates as Tyler Kalinoski dropped in 12 points but shot just 4 of 18 from the field. Fellow guard Brian Sullivan really struggled, missing all eight of his three-point attempts.

The Tar Heels maintained a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half, despite Aldridge’s terrific shooting. He drilled  a pair of consecutive treys to bring Davidson within 52-44 about five minutes into the second half.

It was all UNC from there, with a Paige three-pointer and Jackson jumper making it 61-46 with 12:16 remaining. Williams was able to draw from his reserves in the closing minutes, as 12 Tar Heels saw action.

Nate Britt, who scored five points in 14 minutes said it’s important everyone contribute for the Tar Heels to continue being successful.

“I think the most impressive thing about our team so far is how much depth we have,” Britt says. “We have a lot of people who can play a lot of different positions.”

And play those positions well too, judging by the early results. Next up for the Tar Heels comes a game against Butler in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas starting Wednesday.

UNC Volleyball Climbs Four Spots After Classic Sweep

The UNC volleyball team jumped four spots in this week’s national rankings after sweeping its opponents in the Carolina Classic over the weekend.


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The AVCA Coaches’ voted the Tar Heels into the No. 13 spot after a hard-fought meeting with then-No. 16 Kentucky opened the weekend. The Tar Heels, then ranked No. 17, pulled off the five-set victory with a 16-14 final set. The Wildcats took sets two and three in dominating fashion (25-15 in each), but the Heels answered with a 25-13 set four to force the deciding set.

The weekend’s remaining games was a breeze comparatively as Carolina swept Georgia Southern and VCU on double-header Saturday.

UNC is 7-1 on the season and on a five-match winning streak after its 3-0 loss to Illinois in the Illini Classic on August 30.

The Tar Heels remain home this weekend for the ACC-Big 12 Classic. Oklahoma comes to town Friday, and Carolina hosts West Virginia on Saturday. Both matches begin at 6:00 p.m.

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.

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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.

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.

Tar Heel Baseball Roll Continues with Midweek Davidson Stroll

The No. 15 North Carolina baseball team downed Davidson 10-3 Wednesday at Boshamer Stadium to record it seventh straight win and improve to 8-3 on the year.

With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 3-6 on the season.

UNC sophomore Reilly Hovis earned his second win of the season with three scoreless and hitless innings, striking out five.

The Tar Heels blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth when Davidson struggled to find the plate with its pitches and Carolina scored four runs off an Adrian Chacon RBI, a sac fly, wild pitch and a Wildcat error.

Carolina led 6-1 and would go on to tally four more runs to secure the comfortable midweek victory.

Skye Bolt went 1-2 for UNC with a trio of walks and a run scored. He also made a diving grab at the wall to steal extra bases from Davidson in the eighth inning.

Next up for the Tar Heels is an ACC opening series against ACC newcomer Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.

Final Box Score

Tar Heel Baseball Takes On Davidson Wildcats In Final ACC Tune-Up

The No. 16 Tar Heel baseball team, 7-3 on the season, faces a midweek test Wednesday for a 3 p.m. first pitch at Boshamer Stadium against the 3-5 Davidson Wildcats.

Carolina comes into the contest off a series sweep of North Florida, where the Tar Heel pitching staff carried the day. Sophomore ace Trent Thornton threw 7.2 scoreless innings while freshman Zac Gallen recorded his first career collegiate win.

WCHL will chat with UNC’s Thornton Friday morning at 7:20 a.m. during the Morning News.

Davidson is coming off a 2-1 series loss to Miami (OH) and will be looking to rebound in Chapel Hill. The Wildcats narrowly missed out on an upset victory over No. 8 N.C. State earlier in the season.

Wednesday’s game will be the final tune-up for the Tar Heels before embarking on their ACC campaign against Pittsburgh this weekend.

Primetime Paige Thrives in Pressure Cooker

CHAPEL HILL– There was one pervasive question circulating throughout the Dean Smith Center for much of UNC’s 97-85 overtime victory over Davidson Saturday: Where was Marcus Paige?

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Stunningly, the sophomore guard was held scoreless for the entirety of the first half and much of the second half against the Wildcats. In his absence, J.P. Tokoto luckily filled his shoes on the way to a career high night of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Paige says he just wasn’t himself early on and felt tired out on the court.

“It’s kind of a long week. We had a couple tough practices and a physical game against Texas. It took me a while to kind of get into the game. I just didn’t feel like myself for thirty minutes. It was tough,” Paige says.

But late in the second half, and especially with the game hanging in the balance in the waning minutes of regulation and overtime, Paige emerged. With 8:17 left on the game clock, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer entered the show ring, and he made up for lost time.

Paige finished with 17 points, and scored 11 of UNC’s 18 points in overtime as he sealed the deal when it mattered most.

Paige says he relishes the crucial moments of the game and feels at home when everything is on the line.

“I couldn’t really find any energy the whole game. Crunch time and overtime, I love that – the big moment. When the game’s on the line, that’s when it gets really fun,” Paige says.

James Michael McAdoo says Paige really stepped up and led the team’s gutsy drive to pull out the win.

“Marcus, I think he was scoreless in the first half, but played phenomenal and really led us to the win in the second half,” McAdoo says.

Paige says he was just happy to have a little bit of energy left in him for the strong finish that denied Davidson the upset bid.

“I guess I just had a little bit left in the tank that I found. I was able to get some things to go,” Paige says.

The clutch play of Paige will likely come in handy as the Tar Heels inch closer to ACC play in the New Year.

No. 14 Carolina Rebounds, Downs Davidson in 97-85 Overtime Thriller

CHAPEL HILL– The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team defeated the Davidson Wildcats 97-85 in an overtime thriller Saturday evening in the Dean Smith Center.

The Tar Heels improved to 8-3 on the season while the struggling Wildcats dropped to 4-8. It was a closer than expected battle thanks in large part to Wildcat Brian Sullivan. The sophomore guard scored 33 points.

JP Tokoto led the way for Carolina with 22 points, a career high. And Marcus Paige emerged down the stretch, despite a scoreless first half, to help guide Carolina to the gutsy win.

The Tar Heels were without the services of Joel James as he is expected to be out 10-14 days with an MCL sprain in his right knee. Brice Johnson got the start in place of James.

Carolina won the opening tip, but failed to convert on an easy layup attempt. A turnover caused by Tokoto stopped the Davidson attack as both teams jockeyed for early control in a scoreless affair over a minute into the contest.

Davidson’s Chris Czerapowicz scored the first bucket of the game to give the Wildcats the 2-0 lead. Brice Johnson pivoted, but got caught under the backboard on the next possession. He was called for travel.

Tyler Kalinoski added another score for the Wildcats, but Tokoto answered with a nice basket of his own to place the score at 5-2 in favor of the visiting Wildcats, coached by veteran Bob McKillop.

Tokoto slammed one home to get the crowd into the game and close the Tar Heels within a single point with 16:11 on the first half clock.

The crowd gave James Michael McAdoo a rousing cheer when he managed to make both of his free throw attempts following his debacle at the line a game ago against Texas. With 15:15 left in the half, Davidson was tied with Carolina at 9-9.

Kennedy Meeks layed one in to get his first points of the day, and give Carolina the 11-9 edge. Davidson pressured UNC inside on the other end, drawing a foul on Tokoto. The Wildcats made both foul shots to get the tie at 11.

McAdoo was very active on the glass and was making some nice defensive plays as well early on. Next up, Nate Britt knocked down a shot to contribute to UNC’s score count.

With 13:03 on the clock, the Tar Heels had the 15-12 advantage. But Davidson’s Brian Sullivan knocked down a smooth floater to cut the lead to a single point. The Wildcats were shooting lights out from the floor with nearly a sixty percent shooting percentage.

Sullivan was at it again, already into double figures when he nailed a long-range three-pointer to push his Wildcats back in front in this topsy-turvy game.

Leslie McDonald tied the score at 19 with his smooth three-pointer for UNC. Tokoto continued to slash his way around the court, earning a trip to the free throw line, making one of two. Carolina had the 24-19 lead with under 10 minutes to play in the half when McAdoo ran down the floor for layup off a Wildcat turnover.

Tokoto got to the line with some physical play in the paint. The sophomore forward made them both. UNC led Davidson 26-21 with 7:56 left in the half.

Meeks banked the ball in the hoop with 6:43 on the clock to give Carolina the 28-22 advantage. Some crisp passing was befuddling the Wildcats.

A layup from Jackson Simmons off a beautiful pass from McAdoo put UNC up 31-22 and forced a Davidson timeout at 6:05 on the clock.

After the timeout, Davidson responded. Sullivan launched another bomb from the outside and hit his target. With 4:24 left in the half, the Tar Heels maintained a slim 33-29 lead.

Tokoto was putting together a great game. He scored again to give Carolina the 37-31 lead with 1:38 left in the half.

A flagrant foul was called on Davidson, giving McAdoo a trip to the free throw line. He connected one one of the attempts.

At the half, it was Carolina clinging to a slim 38-35 lead. Tokoto had posted 14 points to lead the Tar Heels. Marcus Paige was surprisingly held scoreless in the opening half. Overall, UNC shot 37.1 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from the foul line.

Meanwhile for Davidson, Sullivan was leading the scorers with 13 points. The Wildcats were shooting 50 percent from the floor, but a mere 33.3 percent from the foul line.

To start the second half, McAdoo got to a familiar place, the foul line. He made one of them to get to double figures on the night. Sullivan continued his impressive shooting with a three-pointer to get the Wildcats within one, and then they took the lead with another make to go up 41-39 with 18:31 left in the game.

Britt made a quick bounce pass to Tokoto inside to grab the tie for the Tar Heels. But a goal tending call on the other end pushed the Wildcats ahead once again at 43-41.

Another three-point dagger by Sullivan put Davidson up 46-42 with 16:36 to play. McDonald then dished it inside to Meeks for a score to reduce the arrears.

Paige continued to struggle offensively on this night. Another shot bounded off the rim, and with 15:38 remaining, Carolina was down 46-44 to Davidson.

Head Coach Roy Williams was visibly upset court side with his team’s play. Davidson extended the lead out to 49-44.

McAdoo drew a foul and made both his free throws to the delight of the crowd. The game flipped on its head when McAdoo converted on a steal and Meeks responded with a make of his own inside to push the Tar Heels ahead 50-49 with 14:30 left in the game.

Davidson called a timeout with 12:46 remaining. At that stage, UNC had the 52-51 edge.

Meeks was at it again, using his size as a strength to bully his way to a score, but the Wildcats answered the score immediately.

McDonald stepped to the foul line with 11:55 left in the contest. McDonald knocked down both attempts.

Tokoto tipped the ball through the nets to ignite the crowd and give the Tar Heels a 58-53 margin. And Johnson followed that up with a rebound and a score as UNC began to establish its authority in the Smith Center.

A nice drive for a score by Czerapowicz kept the Wildcats in the game with a shout. Meeks delivered for the Tar Heels, though, nabbing one of his two foul shots.

Tokoto continued his fine play on a career night in scoring. he made both of his free throws in his trip to the charity stripe. And with under nine minutes to play, UNC held a 63-57 lead.

McAdoo netted another bucket, but another three by Sullivan got him to a career-high level. The Tar Heels couldn’t shake the resilient Davidson squad.. It was a 67-65 nail-biter.

A timeout at the 6:12 mark provided an opportunity for both teams to reorganize for the home stretch. Carolina was up 69-65.

Sullivan had amassed 26 points, a career high. Somehow, he was continually finding ways to get open. The score was knotted up at 69 with 5:00 remaining when McAdoo assumed his spot on the foul line.

Paige was scoreless no more when he layed one in to get the fans on their feet. But a disappointing evening for Brice Johnson came to an end when he picked up his fifth foul, taking a seat on the bench in frustration.

Davidson took the lead 73-72 with under three minutes in the game. The tension was palpable in the Dean Dome. Meeks was put back on the court to add some size to the Tar Heel lineup.

And it worked out immediately. Meeks scored on a nice dish and picked up a foul on the play. But he missed on the opportunity for a three-point play.

Sullivan slid in another outside shot from behind the arc to get the two-point lead for Davidson. And a pass slipped through McDonald’s hands to give the ball back to the Wildcats.

McDonald fouled out for the first time in his career on a controversial charge call. McAdoo tied up the game at 76 with under a minute to play.

But Davidson went ahead again with an easy score on the other end. Britt earned a trip to the foul line to try to tie up the game yet again. But the freshman could not convert on both, only coming good on one.

With 38.4 ticks left on the clock, Paige forced the ball inside to draw a foul and get to the stripe for the first time on the night. He made both of the shots in clutch fashion. It was tied at 79 points.

Davidson could hold for the last shot, and some good defensive pressure forced Sullivan to take Davidson’s final timeout.

Of course, Sullivan got the final shot, but it clanged off the rim as time expired. Overtime play was coming.

Paige opened up the extra period with a score, darting to the basket. Britt followed his lead with an impressive jumper that swished through the nets. Carolina grabbed the 83-79 lead with 3:46 left in overtime.

Paige had finally emerged. He got back to the foul line and made both. Marcus Paige took the roof off the Dean Dome roof with an electric three-pointer that gave UNC an 88-80 lead with 2:34 to go in the overtime period.

Sullivan starting misfiring on his normally reliable outside shooting. The momentum had swung in favor of Carolina.

In the end, UNC did just enough to escape with the win, displaying some tenacious play down the stretch to deny the Wildcats the upset.