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.