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Off the cuff: At the end of his Rutgers post-game press conference, UNC coach Roy Williams told the media that "if you can write a good article after this game, you need a medal."

Well, I'll leave it to you as to whether the article to the right is any good but I think what he was really saying was that if you could say anything good about his team, you need a medal.

I actually can say a few things good about the Heels. While I certainly agree that Carolina players made mistakes, there are some positives. First, as much as I've criticized Dexter Strickland about one thing or another this year, I think he did the right thing by taking that three-point shot. Once Coach Williams looks at the film, he may not be as ticked. The defender backed off Strickland, leaving him wide open. Still, Strickland, thinking better of it, hesitated taking the shot but the defender still did not come out so Strickland finally took the open shot. He can shoot and he was wide open. The bucket was a dagger and started a 10-0 game-ending run.

Also, for the first time since early last season, the Tar Heels placed six players in double figures. That's not too shabby. Yes, the big men missed easy shots but how can you be mad at missing easy shots? As long as it's not a trend, and it hasn't been, then why worry about that blip on the radar, especially in a 14-point victory.

The Heels also had something to do with Rutgers only hitting three of their 23 three-point shots. Yes, the Tar Heels can and need to get better but this win wasn't as bad as the coach lets on.

Tar Heels 81, Rutgers 67
Coach ticked off despite 14-point win

North Carolina saw a 17-point lead cut to four before the Tar Heels scored the game's last 10 points to defeat Rutgers 81-67 in Chapel Hill. (12/28)

The 10-0 run started when freshman Dexter Strickland drilled a three from the left corner with just under two minutes to play. Strickland, who finished with a career-high 18 points, also added three free throws down the stretch to help wrap it up.

However, UNC coach Roy Williams was not happy that Strickland took the three nor was he happy with his defense. "I hated that shot but it went in," Williams said. "His talent took over above coaching and intelligence." Williams added that earlier when Strickland sped down the court for two points that he gave up a two before that bucket and a three after. "He got two and gave up five," he said.

Williams said he is disappointed that the Heels haven't come together as a team. "I'm so ticked off it's unbelievable," said Williams, who slammed his fist down on his chair late in the game and hurt his bad shoulder. He pointed to poor fundamentals as the source of his concern.

Still the Tar Heels opened up the game in the second half after a close first half that finished with Carolina up 39-33. A 6-0 run during the first three minutes put Carolina up 48-35. A Tyler Zeller short bank shot with 12:15 to play gave the Heels their largest lead of the game at 61-44.

But Rutgers, led by Mike Rosario's dribble penetration, outscored Carolina 23-10 over the next 10 minutes to cut the margin to just four at 71-67. With just under two minutes to go, Strickland sank that three-pointer and the Scarlet Knights never scored again.

Strickland's 18 led six Tar Heels in double figures. Deon Thompson scored 14 while Ed Davis chipped in 11 to go with his 15 rebounds while Larry Drew II, Will Graves and Zeller added 10 each.

Rutgers, led by Rosario's 22 points, hit only three of 23 three-point attempts and only scored four points from the free throw line. Carolina was three of seven from three and 24 of 35 from the free throw line.

The Tar Heels play at home against Albany Wednesday night. Marcus Ginyard sat out the game against Rutgers with a sprained ankle and also will not play against Albany.

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