Tar Heels Fall To Wolfpack With Historically Poor Offense

The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team couldn’t overcome a miserable first half Tuesday night, ultimately falling to rival N.C. State 58-46. The 46 points was the lowest point total for the Tar Heels in Smith Center history.

***Listen to the story***

With the loss, Carolina dropped to a 19-9 mark on the season and 9-6 in ACC play while the Wolfpack improved to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the league. What’s more, the road win likely cemented N.C. State’s place in the NCAA Tournament.

UNC freshman forward Justin Jackson tallied 16 points to lead all scorers, but he was one of the few bright spots for the home team on this night.

The crowd was loud Tuesday night, but the UNC players fell short (Todd Melet)

The crowd was loud Tuesday night, but the UNC players fell short (Todd Melet)

The Wolfpack trio of Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber, Ralston Turner and Trevor Lacey formed a potent triumvirate, amassing 43 of their team’s 58 points.

UNC head coach Roy Williams was at a loss for words after the game, disappointed that after motivating the crowd “to show up and invest” after Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech, his team let its fans down in the rivalry defeat.

“They were dominating from the first get-go. Before I even get to that, I want to say something and make something really clear. Our crowd was great tonight, and we let them down. They were sensational. They were off the charts. The coach let them down and the players…early in the game they dominated everything. They intimidated us inside,” Coach Williams says.

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

N.C. State outrebounded Carolina 41-38 and seemingly came up with every loose ball and jump ball rebound. Not surprisingly, Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried was delighted with his team’s effort.

“We answered their run, which I thought was really important and was really something I was very proud of for our team, so it’s a great win for us.  Obviously, North Carolina is a terrific team.  We’re very fortunate, so I’m very proud of our guys,” Coach Gottfried says.

N.C. State grabbed a milestone victory (Todd Melet)

N.C. State grabbed a milestone victory (Todd Melet)

The first half couldn’t have gone more poorly for the Tar Heels. UNC shot a mere 28 percent from the floor, but NC State was able to effectively limit the second-chance opportunities for Carolina. The Wolfpack gobbled up defensive rebounds with ruthless authority.

Roy Williams was fired up as usual (Todd Melet)

Roy Williams was fired up as usual (Todd Melet)

The final score of the first half for the Tar Heels came on Meeks’ tip-in with still 5:46 to go.

At intermission, NC State held a 29-18 advantage in large part to dominance on the boards. The visiting team held a 25-17 lead in the rebounding department. The 18 points put up by UNC was the lowest production in any half in the Smith Center in the Roy Williams era.

“We were getting the ball five, six feet away from the basket, so I don’t know. We just couldn’t convert a lot of those, I don’t know why. Usually our bigs do a great job of scoring inside. We just couldn’t get the ball to go in. Justin had a couple of easy throws around the basket, but you know they are physical and obviously very good shot blockers. That might have had something to do with it,” UNC junior guard Marcus Paige says.

In the second half, after falling behind 34-18 with 18:12 to play, the Tar Heels mounted a strong rally by getting out in transition and pushing the tempo. The Smith Center crowd erupted when UNC closed to within four at 36-32 with 12:10 remaining in the contest.

But from there, the Tar Heels again lost their way and to the Wolfpack’s credit, they maintained their pose down the stretch. Senior guard Ralston Turner’s three-pointer with 4:58 to play might have been the turning point, extending N.C. State’s lead back out to seven points.

Late turnovers and careless passes further doomed the Tar Heels in the waning minutes and led to the men in red celebrating a rare win in Chapel Hill. The last win for the Wolfpack in the Smith Center came in 2003.

The Tar Heels return to action 2 p.m. Saturday at Miami.




Roy Williams Wants More Help From Fans In N.C. State Rivalry Rematch

Tuesday night at 8 p.m., the No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 19-8 overall with a 9-5 mark in the ACC, will square off with its rival from Raleigh, the N.C. State Wolfpack, who come into the contest with a 16-11 record and 7-7 mark in the league.

***Listen to the story***

UNC head coach Roy Williams will be hoping for more ‘investment’ from the Carolina fans.

“I felt like they were asleep most of the day any way. That’s not intended to be criticism, but it’s criticism. We need some dadgum help. We go on the road and people are screaming like banshees or something. Today, every time I yelled at a player, they turned around and looked at me. I yelled at a player Wednesday night, they never knew I was over there yelling. They thought I was doing exercises,” Coach Williams says.

Roy Williams animated on the sidelines (Todd Melet)

Roy Williams animated on the sidelines (Todd Melet)

Needless to say, Coach Williams was none too pleased with the atmosphere in the Smith Center Saturday afternoon for UNC’s commanding 89-60 victory over Georgia Tech.

Is it a coincidence Coach Williams’ plea for more crowd support comes just before the rematch with the Wolfpack?

Coach Williams’ 28-2 career record against N.C. State says it all. In short, the Carolina Hall of Famer has a personal disdain for the men in red.

And luckily for Coach Williams, junior guard Marcus Paige doesn’t seem to care for the Wolfpack much either. He’s produced some of his best games in this in-state rivalry matchup, including last season’s unforgettable duel with T.J. Warren and his impressive 23-point outing earlier this year.

Paige says with all the disappointment in recent weeks, coming out on the right end of scoreboard against the Yellow Jackets over the weekend was critical for Carolina’ confidence going forward.

Cat Barber dribbles around Marcus Paige (Wolfpack Athletics)

Cat Barber dribbles around Marcus Paige (Wolfpack Athletics)

“It’s been tough with the loss of Coach Smith and also us losing a couple tough games – going up to Pitt and not performing the way we wanted to and losing a heartbreaker at Duke. That was tough. This was a great way to bounce back. We really needed this one for our confidence and kind of get a positive thing going here,” Paige says.

After a questionable performance at Duke, freshman forward Justin Jackson got back on track against Georgia Tech, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds.

Jackson says he was happy to see his teammate, Paige, regain his shooting touch as well.

“To see him come out here and knock down a few shots, it’s definitely good for his confidence and for us. It lifts us up. Whenever he says stuff like that, that’s the pressure he puts on himself to be great. We got to take some of that as well. It was great to see him produce like he did,” Jackson says.

As for the Wolfpack, they’re loaded with scoring options. Junior guard Trevor Lacey is a handful and when you add in senior veteran Ralston Turner’s ability to knock down outside shots, N.C. State becomes a formidable force on the hardwood.

With things seemingly falling into place, head coach Mark Gottfried will be confident in his team’s chances at springing the upset in the Smith Center.

UNC sophomore Kennedy Meeks, though, believes in the Carolina Way and says there’s no cap on his squad’s potential coming down the stretch.

Meeks battles inside (Todd Melet)

Meeks battles inside (Todd Melet)

“Coach always says we got to keep fighting and play the Carolina Way. Last couple games, we’ve played tough, but teams hit some big-time shots with some big-time execution. I think if we play our heart out, the sky’s the limit for us. As a team, we just got to get better,” Meeks says.

Coach Williams, meanwhile, has a message for the fans who are heading to the Smith Center Tuesday night.

“If you want to act like I’m chastising the fans, just tell them to come in and invest. We need some help. Show up with your lungs rested…when do we play again? Tuesday night. We need some more support, my gosh,” Coach Williams says.

It remains to be seen what kind of atmosphere will be awaiting the Tar Heels, but Coach Williams no doubt knew exactly what he was doing in the build-up to a game that means a whole lot to a lot of people.


UNC WBB Completes Comeback Win Over N.C. State

In a narrow escape, the No. 12 North Carolina’s women basketball team defeated North Carolina State ,67-63, in Reynolds Coliseum Thursday evening. The Tar Heels are now 4-2 in the ACC and 17-3 overall. With the loss, N.C. State fell even to 3-3 in the conference with a 12-7 record.

The start of the game was sluggish for both teams. Carolina committed 3 turnovers in its first few possessions and did not score a field goal until almost four minutes into the game. Both UNC and N.C. State were shooting well below 30 percent from the field.

Unlike the teams’ first meeting in Chapel Hill on Jan. 4, the Tar Heels never made a solid run to gain any hope of clinching a blowout. In fact, N.C. State ran up the score on them, leading by as many as 13, but the Wolfpack ended the first half with a 26-21 edge thanks to poor shooting from the Tar Heels.

“We kept battling hard, so I was happy we were only down by five at halftime,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “But State played really smart and they played well but we had a time out and I challenged the seniors – I have three seniors. And I just said ‘alright you three seniors, this is your team.’ And they went back out there and then man, all of a sudden we got a couple of steals off defensive pressure and it gave us some momentum that we needed.”

Coming out of the halftime break, UNC turned up the intensity on its defense and broke out into a trap that allowed them three steals and two easy buckets for Latifah Coleman and Stephanie Mavunga.

And in the final minutes of fouls and free throws, senior Brittany Rountree sealed the win for UNC, going 8-8 from behind the line in the last 30 seconds. Her 9 points came from free throws alone.

“The free throws, we do a lot of those in practice,” Rountree said. “Coach (Andrew) Calder and Coach Hatchell challenge us so I mean, it just comes with practice. It’s something that I’m used to and my teammates and coaches depend on me so I don’t let them down. I kind of like being in those situations, especially silencing the crowd.”

N.C. State’s offense was led by Len’Nique Brown with 21 points and Dominique Wilson with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jennifer Mathurin, a 6’1” forward, posed as a double threat to Carolina as a big presence in the post and a scorer from outside. Mathurin shot 3-7 from the three point line.

Wolfpack head coach Wes Moore maintains hopes of keeping an NCAA tournament berth a realistic goal for his team, but he says he knows they’re running out of time.

“The thing about this league is it’s probably the strongest in the country,” Coach Moore said. “If you can get some signature wins, you still have a chance. We’re 3-3, but again we don’t have a signature win or two that we need and we’ve got to find a way to get that.”

The Tar Heels will continue to be that signature team to beat for the remainder of the season. Next up for UNC comes a home court showdown against another rival this weekend. No. 15 Duke, who is now 13-6 on the season and 4-2 in the ACC, travels to Carmichael Sunday at 5 p.m.



Five Reasons Behind Roy’s Hate for State

For Roy Williams, the pain probably started not long after the buzzer sounded last Saturday afternoon.  Marcus Paige had just nailed a gutsy left-handed scoop shot with eight seconds to play to knock off  fourth- ranked Louisville when all of a sudden, in a phenomenon that occurs twice each year, his head coach felt a sharp, burning sensation in his gut.  Roy said nothing after the game, keeping all complaints to himself, but I knew what was wrong.

For the four nights after the big win, I had a hunch that Coach Williams would not be able to eat.

He’s mentioned the condition before. In 2008, after Tyler Hansbrough and the Tar Heels crushed the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill, Roy told the media that he’d “rather not eat than lose to NC State,” and that he informed Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and the rest of his team that “they weren’t eating postgame unless they beat NC State.”

In this year’s first meet-up between the long-time rivals Wednesday night, Marcus Paige gave coach Williams his 23rd victory in 25 tries since taking the job at North Carolina, with a masterful performance – scoring 23 points, dishing out nine assists and also failing to record a single turnover.

For Roy, it must have also felt like Paige fed him a win with an extra side of chili-cheese fries, because you know he was hungry for this one.

Marcus Paige helped his coach's appetite return with his play Wednesday (Todd Melet)

Marcus Paige helped his coach’s appetite return with his play Wednesday (Todd Melet)

That’s why I feel safe saying that it was Roy Williams’ stomach that was actually the most relieved Tar Heel inside PNC Arena when State’s freshman forward Cody Martin missed long on his tip-in attempt that would have sent the game to overtime, giving the Heels an 81-79 victory in rival territory.

For the majority of Carolina fans, Duke is seen as UNC’s most hated rival, and the games between the two schools are some of the most intense in all of sports (professional or college). State basketball is often dismissed and treated like the red-headed stepchild, with the main insult being that it’s not even a “true rivalry” anymore due to the Tar Heels’ 31-6 record against the Pack since Dean Smith retired.

Roy Williams isn’t the majority of fans. He has no problem showing that emotion-filled “H-word” for the team in Raleigh. That isn’t a mystery. The mystery is why? When that strong emotional energy could be put towards Coach K’s Durham Empire, what could possibly fuel all this hate for State?

Roy Williams possibly expressing his feelings about NC State to his bench. (Todd Melet)

Roy Williams possibly expressing his feelings about NC State to his bench. (Todd Melet)

I decided it was necessary to bring out my magnifying glass, and go searching for answers. During my quest, I was led to five possible reasons that Roy’s stomach churns at the sight of the color red.

Let’s take a look at the findings of the investigation, which we can call the “Roy-State Report.”

  1. Bullying- There was a time in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that NC State, led by coach Norm Sloan and star David Thompson, actually mattered on the national scene. They won three ACC championships, a national title in 1974, and had a nine game win streak against Carolina. Roy, a member of UNC’s class of ’72, recalled what it was like having friends at State during his college days when he told the media before their game against the Wolfpack in January 2012 that “…. I was a freshman in college and some old high school buddies that I had played baseball and basketball with were over at State and they gave me enough crap for the rest of my life. I didn’t appreciate it and I didn’t like it. So I’ve always had the feeling that this is an important game…”
  2. He Sees the Future- If you missed the game Wednesday or haven’t started watching college basketball yet this season, it’s my job to break the news that NC State is young, talented, athletic, and on the rise. Leading scorer Trevor Lacey is a junior expected to return next year, and guard Ralston Turner is the only senior on the team that plays at least ten minutes per game. The rest of the rotation consists of freshmen and sophomores all expected to make big improvements under head coach Mark Gottfried. They’ve also beaten Duke twice in the past two years. Roy may just want the fans to recognize this and start hating accordingly.

    Coach Mark Gottfried looks to return NC State to its glory days (Todd Melet)

    Coach Mark Gottfried looks to return NC State to its glory days (Todd Melet)

  3. Bricks- The University of North Carolina was the first public university in the United States. This is common knowledge around Chapel Hill. The brick pathways around campus have long been associated with the school, famous among students for their many uneven “potholes” that trip anyone not watching their step. It’s my amateur theory that NC State, during its construction, loved the idea of UNC’s bricks so much that they stole it and extended it to their entire campus, making everything they could out of red and white bricks.  The result was, in my personal opinion, one of the uglier college campuses in America, which could at least explain why Roy would hate going there.
  4. The Kool-Aid Man- No State fan will ever forget that bright red blazer. Former Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe finished his career in Raleigh just 1-10 against the Tar Heels but it was the fashion statement he made in the Pack’s February 2007 home victory against UNC that caught the eye of many. It started as a tribute to Jim Valvano, but when NC State scored a huge upset over a heavily favored Carolina team, the jacket took on a life of its own, with Lowe continuing to wear it during his team’s big games. Roy had to have been furious losing to a coach with an outfit that resembled the Kool-Aid man, with the memory strong enough to motivate himself into never losing to Lowe again.
  5.  The Color- Growing up in North Carolina means that for as long as he has been alive, Roy Williams has associated the color red with NC State University. It also means that in a predominantly Christian state, Roy learned that God painted the sky Carolina Blue and that Satan himself was colored red. In coming to UNC, it may have been tough for Roy to be brainwashed into believing that devils are, in fact, Duke blue.


Although it can be easily argued that the “Roy-State Report” findings were somewhat inconclusive, they should at least help to answer why Wanda Williams, Roy’s wife, will most likely only need to cook dinner for one next month during the week of February 24th, when the Wolfpack return to Chapel Hill.

Those pains will be back, and again, it could be up to Marcus Paige to feed his coach.


Paige, Hicks Lead Tar Heels To Wild Rivalry Road Win

The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team survived N.C. State, 81-79, Wednesday night at PNC Arena to improve to 13-4 on the season and 3-1 in the ACC.

With the loss, the Wolfpack dropped to 12-6 overall and 3-2 in league play.

***Listen to the story***

N.C. State got into foul trouble midway through the second half, and sophomore forward Beejay Anya ultimately fouled out with 6:58 to play. Senior guard Ralston Turner fouled out with just 3 ticks left in the contest.

Meanwhile, UNC took full advantage with crisp passing and sharp shooting to pull away from their rivals and establish a double-digit lead. But the Wolfpack didn’t give up, fighting their way back to within a whisker of victory.

Marcus Paige and Roy Williams continued their dominance over their rivals (Todd Melet)

Marcus Paige and Roy Williams continued their dominance over their rivals (Todd Melet)

Junior point guard Marcus Paige, not surprisingly, turned in a sharp performance at a venue he enjoys, finishing with 23 points on 7-13 shooting.

“Honestly, it’s a fun environment,” Paige says. “It’s kind of like an us-against-the-world mentality when we come in here. And that’s a fun way to play.”

UNC head coach Roy Williams was full of praise for Paige’s play following the game.

“I’d like for him to be 6-3, 220, but he’s not that,” Coach Williams says. “What he is is 165 pounds to 175 — and most of it’s heart.”


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

But it was sophomore forward Isaiah Hicks who surprised most, tallying 12 points and only missing one shot from the field.  Hicks seemed to set the tone with his emphatic play in the paint.

Turner and junior guard Trevor Lacey led the N.C. State scoring charge with 20 and 19 points respectively. The Wolfpack also outrebounded the Tar Heels, 37-33, with scrappy effort and want-to, but it wasn’t enough to emerge victorious on this occasion.

Coach Williams continued his dominance over N.C. State, improving his career head-to-head record to 28-2 against the Wolfpack.

“I didn’t think in the first half we had the movement, the quickness,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried says. “We just seemed to be going slow motion in my mind. The second half we came out and played basketball. … But we didn’t do it for 40 minutes. We did it for 20 minutes.”

***Click here for full game photo gallery***

Meeks opened the scoring proceedings with a smooth jumper to get the Tar Heels on the board first in their opening possession.

Meeks slam dunk (Todd Melet)

Meeks slam dunk (Todd Melet)

Abdul-Malik Abu got the Wolfpack’s first points, but it was UNC who got off to a sharp start, spurting out to a 6-2 lead with 16:37 on the first half clock.

But Turner answered for the home team, draining the next two buckets to knot up the game at 8 points apiece.

With 11:40 to play, the Wolfpack earned their first lead of the contest, 13-12, thanks to the hot-shooting of Turner.

UNC used some of its size to draw a second foul on Turner and send the sharp-shooter to the bench briefly. Efficient passing for both teams paced the offenses, and with 7:26 before halftime, N.C. State held a slim 17-16 edge.

Hicks finished the first half with a flourish, converting on every shot he took. The Tar Heels, who made nine of their last 11 attempts from the field, trotted into the locker room with a 32-26 lead.

Both squads came out of halftime on fire, knocking down shots inside and outside with ease, picking apart the opposing defenses.

Promising N.C. State sophomore Kyle Washington made his presence felt and Turner did his part to get the crowd into it early in the final 20 minutes of play. With 15:07 to play, the Tar Heels maintained a 45-38 advantage.

JP Tokoto negotiates the defense of Beejay Anya (Todd Melet)

JP Tokoto negotiates the defense of Beejay Anya (Todd Melet)

Paige continued to work his way into space, converting on crucial long-range jumpers to stave off the Wolfpack surge and keep UNC ahead 52-48 with 11:41 remaining.

In a bad development for N.C. State, Turner picked up his fourth foul at the 10:05 mark in the second half, promptly taking a seat on the bench.

Back-to-back three-point plays from Justin Jackson and J.P Tokoto helped reestablish a solid lead for the Tar Heels at 62-52.

And with 4:35 to play, Paige nailed down a wide open three to extend UNC’s lead to 71-60 and ultimately seal the road win, despite a furious Wolfpack rally that had N.C. State within three points with under a minute to play. PNC Arena was rocking right to the finish.

Next up for the Tar Heels is a Sunday evening meeting with lowly Virginia Tech for a 6:30 p.m. tip in the Smith Center.



No. 15 Tar Heels Face Hungry Wolfpack In Hostile PNC Arena

The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the ACC, hits the road Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. tipoff in PNC Arena against the N.C. State Wolfpack, 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the ACC.

***Listen to the story***

Coming off an upset over No. 4 Duke Sunday, the Wolfpack will be confident they can make it two in a row, this time against the hated Tar Heels.

The Wolfpack had everything clicking in their 87-75 victory over the Blue Devils last weekend.

The performance merited high praise from UNC head coach Roy Williams.

“I think they handled Duke’s pressure really well. That was about as impressive a show as you’ve seen in quite a while. They had Duke by 19. […] I think they were just on the top of their game,” Coach Williams says.

Roy Williams on the sidelines (Todd Melet)

Roy Williams on the sidelines (Todd Melet)

The Tar Heels should expect another solid outing from the Wolfpack when the two rivals face off in a vital ACC meeting. Both squads find themselves near the top of the league standings and another marquee win for N.C. State would do wonders for its NCAA Tournament resume.

Last season, the two schools authored a classic chapter in their long-standing hardwood rivalry that stands at 150-76 in favor of Carolina.

Former Wolfpack star T.J. Warren went head-to-head down the stretch with UNC junior Marcus Paige before the Tar Heels were able to pull out the thrilling overtime win, 85-84, in Raleigh.

But this season, N.C. State is without Warren and Paige hasn’t been producing at the same level.

Coach Williams says the difference now is the ‘tough little nut’, as he commonly refers to Paige, is being zeroed in on by opposing defenses.

“He’s gotten so much more attention than he did at least the first half of last year. Maybe it was halfway through the season before he started to get all that attention. He’s got all the defensive attention from the first game this year. Perhaps that has something to do with it. He’s been a really good player, but when the other team’s defense is aimed at you, it’s really hard,” Coach Williams says.

Last year, Paige and Warren dueled (Todd Melet)

Last year, Paige and Warren dueled (Todd Melet)

With the pieces seemingly coming together for the men in red, N.C. State’s offense is much more dynamic. And although Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner do most of the heavy lifting, sophomore forward Kyle Washington may be the X-factor.

Coach Gotttfried says Washington’s growth has been integral to the Wolfpack success this season.

“I think you said it right. He has no fear. He’s aggressive offensively. I think he did a great job rebounding the ball. A lot of those rebounds were in traffic – tough rebounds that we needed him to get. We need scoring, and we need scoring from those guys inside. Kyle stepped up and played with a lot of confidence,” Coach Gottfried says.

A healthy Marcus Paige will be key for the Tar Heels’ chances. So how is Paige feeling after a nasty rolled ankle last weekend against Louisville?

He says he’s ready to go and will fight through the pain, if necessary.

“I think yesterday [Monday] and today [Tuesday] are the best it’s felt in the last two weeks. It’s on the upswing. Games usually make it hurt a lot more the next day. We’ll see how it holds up after tomorrow [Wednesday], but going into tomorrow, it feels pretty good,” Paige says.

Although Coach Gottfried recognizes the wealth of talent on the UNC roster, he says his guys will be concentrating most of their attention on Paige.

Marcus Paige on the drive (Nick Vitali)

Marcus Paige on the drive (Nick Vitali)

“I think Paige is a great player. I think North Carolina is a tremendously talented roster from one-ten. They’ve got a lot of really good players. But I do think it starts with Paige. He’s the guy that makes them go. We’ve got to do a great job on him,” Coach Gottfried says.

As usual on the road in the brutal ACC, the Tar Heels will be playing in an unfriendly venue.

Coach Williams says he’ll be using some mind tricks Wednesday night to help his players cope with the hostile environment that awaits them.

“It will be hostile, there’s no question about that. It will be unique, interesting, but hostile will fit too. We haven’t talked about it, but we’ll tell them it’s a great road game, a great opportunity, and we got to pretend they’re yelling for us,” Coach Williams says.

Although it’s Carolina who has dominated the series lately, winning 16 of the last 17 games, the 227th installment in this heated in-state rivalry promises to be compelling entertainment.


Tar Heel Women Crush Wolfpack for First ACC Win

Stephanie Mavunga continued her string of dynamic games as the No. 9 UNC women’s basketball team defeated rival North Carolina State in their ACC opener Sunday afternoon, 72-56, at Carmichael Arena. The Tar Heels now boast a 14-1 record with the win and the Wolfpack have fallen to 9-5.

With the absence of junior forward and All-ACC preseason selection Xylina McDaniel, UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell was concerned she had lost some fire in her front court.

“(Later in the season) you’ll probably see us do some different things because we’re still adjusting to Xylina not being out there. Just her physical presence, she’s strong and defensively she’s pretty tough out there so we’re still adjusting.”

However, since McDaniel’s unfortunate and likely season-ending lower leg injury, Mavunga has quickly stepped in place to boast career-high stats in the past two games, with a little help from her partner in the post.

“In the game two days ago, Xylina said to me ‘I’m watching you, I’m watching you more than anybody else.’ And I just froze. So she gets on me when I’m frustrated and she gives me pointers on things she sees in my game that I may not see. Even just helping me with moves, she’s a phenomenal post player. An All-American type player so I listen to her – she knows what she’s talking about.”

McDaniel’s tips have proven to pay off so far. In last game’s blowout victory over East Tennessee State, Mavunga posted a career-high 26 points on nearly perfect shooting from the floor with 93 percent accuracy. And against the Wolfpack, she was still rolling. Mavunga finished with a full stat line – 23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and a career-high 5 assists.

UNC was assisted on the scoring boards by impressive performances by both Allisha Gray with 13 points and 12 rebounds, her 4th double-double of the season as well as senior Brittany Rountree, who netted 14 points on 4-6 three point shooting.

The Wolfpack suffered from foul trouble early in the first half, but continued to play a gritty match that slowed UNC’s ability to stretch their lead. After three fouls and only two points in the first 20 minutes of play, NC State redshirt sophomore Domonique Wilson came back to score 13 points in the second half alone. Sophomore Miah Spencer and senior Len’Nique Brown-Hoskin each added 11 for the Pack.

NC State head coach Wes Moore says Sunday’s loss gives his team a taste of what to expect from the ACC’s list of heavy-hitting women’s basketball teams this season. In the match, North Carolina led by as many as 27 points.

“We’ll have to combat (them) with a competitive fire,” Moore said. “I hate to say this but I grew up in Texas, and we say down there it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. We’re just going to have to compete, maybe work on some defenses that mix it up a bit.”

UNC also undoubtedly honored Tar Heel alumnus and sportscaster Stuart Scott with a moment of silence at the beginning of the contest. Scott passed away Sunday morning from a lengthy battle with cancer.

Next up for North Carolina is a road trip to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers Thursday at 7:00 p.m.



Back to Drawing Board for Fedora, Heels

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora was at a loss for words following his team’s 35-7 blowout loss to their rivals in red. The Tar Heels came into the contest on a high off the dominant Duke win, but the roles were reversed Saturday afternoon.

***Listen to the story***

Carolina’s football team couldn’t match the physicality and intensity of the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday afternoon inside Kenan Stadium and as a result, finished the regular season with a disappointing 6-6 record.

Their Wolfpack rivals improved to 7-5 on the season and snapped a two-game losing slide to the Tar Heels.

***Click here for NCSU game recap***

Both UNC quarterback Marquise Williams and receiver Ryan Switzer were knocked out of the game by the relentless Wolfpack attack, and the enigmatic Carolina regular season came to a close with a resounding thud.

Coach Fedora wasn’t mincing any words after the game. He says he can’t remember a worse offensive output in his coaching career.

Mitch Trubisky was thrust into action Saturday (Elliott Rubin)

Mitch Trubisky was thrust into action Saturday (Elliott Rubin)

“You got to at least be decent up front, and we weren’t. We just didn’t have anybody make any plays. Give them credit. We didn’t match the energy level. That’s one of the worst offensive performances I’ve been around,” Coach Fedora says.

It’s hard to argue with the Carolina skipper. The Tar Heels only mustered 207 yards of total offense against the 454 yards racked up by the Wolfpack.

N.C. State shot out of the gates with high intensity and ruthless intention, dominating the line of scrimmage and delivering punishing blow after punishing blow to UNC signal caller Williams.

Carolina offensive lineman Landon Turner says the O-line’s struggles were all mental.

“I think before the game, everyone had plenty of energy. I think, mentally, somewhere down the line we lost some guys. It was more of a mental issue than a physical issue today,” Turner says.

The defensive line didn’t fare any better for the Tar Heels, giving up a whopping 388 rushing yards to the Wolfpack.

What’s more, N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett ran all over the Tar Heels, setting his school’s single-game rushing record for a quarterback with 167 yards.

The only bright spot for the Tar Heels came with 1:48 remaining in the contest. Quinshad Davis tied Hakeem Nicks for the all-time career receiving touchdowns record with his 21st score.

There was plenty of red inside Kenan Stadium (Elliott Rubin)

There was plenty of red inside Kenan Stadium (Elliott Rubin)

But that was no consolation prize for the junior receiver. Davis says his team didn’t respond at all to N.C. State’s aggression.

“We felt like we were ready to go. They just hit us in the mouth, and we didn’t react. That’s that,” Davis says.

What’s next for the Tar Heel football team? The demoralized Tar Heels will now await their postseason bowl destination, likely a lower-tier bowl game.

But in the meantime, Coach Fedora says the coaching staff will hit the recruiting trail and the players will focus on finishing up their coursework strong.

“The coaches will be on the road recruiting. Our guys have got their last few days of class, so they’ll be concentrating on finishing up well in the classroom. We will probably lift them and run them some just to keep them moving around, but really we’ll try to give their bodies a break here,” Coach Fedora says.


Wolfpack Thrashes Williams, Tar Heels

The North Carolina football team couldn’t match the physicality and intensity of the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday afternoon inside Kenan Stadium and was soundly beaten 35-7.

With the win, the Wolfpack improved to 7-5 on the season, while the Tar Heels dropped to 6-6 overall with the defeat.

NC State huddle  (Elliott Rubin)

NC State huddle (Elliott Rubin)

Both Marquise Williams and Ryan Switzer were knocked out of the game by the relentless attack by the Wolfpack, and the enigmatic Carolina regular season came to a close with a resounding thud.

“Stunning is a good word. It was very disappointing. I was very surprised, actually. But, it’s what it was. No matter how you look at it, they dominated the line of scrimmage. It’s like what we did a week ago; it was the exact opposite this week. It’s hard to win a game when you don’t win upfront,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora says.

The Wolfpack shot out of the gates with high intensity and ruthless intention, dominating the line of scrimmage and delivering punishing blow after punishing blow to UNC quarterback Marquise Williams.

“That was definitely one of our worst games as an offensive line. It wasn’t a lack of ability. I think it was more of a mental gap. We got in our own heads today,” junior guard Landon Turner says.

The defensive line didn’t fare any better for the Tar Heels, giving up 388 rushing yards to the Wolfpack.

NC State quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who set the single-game rushing record for rushing yards at his school with 167, capped off the 79-yard opening drive with a 17-yard touchdown run that gave the visitors a 7-0 lead with 11:02 on the first quarter clock.

Brissett followed that score up with another impressive drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end David Grinnage with 9:52 to play in the half.

UNC’s Thomas Moore missed a makeable 35-yard field goal attempt and the Wolfpack responded with a 4-yard touchdown dive from running back Shadrach Thornton to grab his team a 21-0 advantage at intermission.

Mitch Trubisky was thrust into action Saturday (Elliott Rubin)

Mitch Trubisky was thrust into action Saturday (Elliott Rubin)

The pounding on Williams didn’t stop after halftime. A venomous tackle left Williams flat on his back before being helped up and off the field early days in the third quarter.

A three-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Purvis at the close of an extended drive gave NC State an insurmountable 28-0 lead with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter.

To make matters worse, Ryan Switzer was pummeled on a punt return and stayed down on the ground for minutes before being helped off the field in the fourth quarter.

The only bright spot for the Tar Heels came with 1:48 remaining in the contest. Quinshad Davis tied Hakeem Micks for the all-time career receiving touchdowns record with his 21st score.

“Very, very proud of the NC State Wolfpack football team and our coaching staff and our players and the preparation. For two games in a row, we’ve dominated an in-state opponent, and that’s what it was – 388 yards rushing and held them to 30. It was a great performance, in all three phases, by a bunch of different people,” NC State head coach Dave Doeren says.

The demoralized Tar Heels will now await their postseason bowl destination, likely a lower-tier bowl game, after a disappointing 6-6 regular season finish.



Tar Heels Try To Tame Wolfpack In Home Finale

The North Carolina football team, 6-5 overall and 4-3 in the ACC, closes out its regular season with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday afternoon against its rival from Raleigh – 6-5 N.C. State.

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The Tar Heels have been led by the gritty, determined play of junior signal caller Marquise Williams, who was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week for the fourth time this season Monday.

But according to Wolfpack defender Hakim Jones, Williams is a softy who “basically quits” when hit a few times.

UNC head coach Larry Fedora says he doesn’t think it’s wise to question his quarterback’s toughness.

“I wouldn’t question Marquise’s toughness. You have seen all of our games. You’ve seen how he gets hit and what he does. I haven’t looked at a game and thought he laid down for any reason,” Coach Fedora says.

Williams back for the snap (Elliott Rubin)

Williams back for the snap (Elliott Rubin)

If he got his way, Coach Fedora says he’d like Williams to go down to the ground a little quicker. But the Carolina skipper says that’s not even an option for the tough-natured Williams.

“I would like for him to go down more than he does, a whole lot more. But that’s not who he is. It’s not his makeup or in his DNA. He likes delivering blows,” Coach Fedora says.

There will certainly be plenty of heavy blows delivered Saturday afternoon in this rivalry matchup featuring two teams who don’t like each other.

Jones calling out Williams may be foolish, but it definitely throws more fuel on the fire of this intense rivalry that N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren says is fun to be a part of.

“It’s a great rivalry. The distance between the schools makes it special. They’re always heated and a lot of pageantry goes into them. I love everything about it. It’s a big challenge for our football team. Any time you’re in a game like this as a coach, it’s a pleasure,” Coach Doeren says.

Per usual, Coach Fedora turned the UNC locker room red last weekend. He says his interior decorating is partly motivational and partly just for fun.

“We like to have a good time. Whether that’s juvenile or not, the kids have fun with it. I don’t think it’s what motivates them to play the game. It’s kind of a joke, but they’ve had fun with it in the past,” Coach Fedora says.

The Wolfpack offense has found its feet this season in large part thanks to the play of Florida transfer quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Coach Fedora says Brissett will make life difficult for the Tar Heel defense.

Jacoby Brissett (NBC Sports)

Jacoby Brissett (NBC Sports)

“That guy is really talented. He can beat you with his legs or beat you with his arms. He’s going to extend plays. He’s a special players, there’s no doubt,” Coach Fedora says.

The key to the game may come down to the running game. The team that has held the rushing advantage has won 19 of the last 22 meetings.

Luckily for the Tar Heels, running back T.J. Logan is running with ruthless intention at just the right time. His revitalization mimics the upward trajectory of the entire UNC team.

Senior linebacker Norkeithus Otis says his teammates have grown in confidence.

“We just keep working and believing in each other. We find ways to win games and keep fighting. A lot of the confidence has come up in all the guys,” Otis says.

The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Wolfpack, 65-32-6, and have never lost under the direction of Coach Fedora.