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Off the cuff: Perhaps too much is already being made of the terrific atmosphere at Carmichael but let's face it, it's a better place to play than the cavernous Smith Center. During the 70s and early 80s, it was considered even more tough to play there than at Duke's Cameron. In fact, Tar Heel fans, not Duke fans, won trophies for giving their teams the country's best home-court advantage. (And they didn't have to paint their faces, yell obscenities at opponents and wave their hands behind the basket to do it.)

Coach Roy Williams said it was fun to play at Carmichael. He said the fans and the atmosphere was sensational. Williams coached JV teams in Carmichael for eight years and was an assistant to Dean Smith in Carmichael for eight years. It brought back a lot of memories which he shared with the team during practice sessions.

Carmichael has changed. After renovations a couple of years ago, the name was changed from Carmichael Auditorium to Carmichael Arena. A media table was added on the side that used to have just fans crammed up on the court. And there are more than 3,000 fewer seats. It would be fun to have one game a year at Carmichael, which hadn't been used by the men's team since 1986, when Jim Valvano "scored" the final basket after the Heels defeated N.C. State. Coach Williams said he has suggested that they do have a game there each year. Seems to me he has the power to pull that off if he really wanted to. Carolina hosted William & Mary in Carmichael because of some renovations taking place at the Smith Center.

Tar Heels 80, William & Mary 72
Heels survive 3s, go on late 11-0 run

William & Mary took 43 three-point shots and hit a season-high 16 of them but North Carolina withstood the onslaught and outscored the Tribe 11-0 over the last five minutes to take an 80-72 victory in a National Invitational Tournament game played at Carmichael Arena. (3/16)

The Tribe, winners over ACC teams Maryland and Wake Forest during the season, did not get intimidated after falling behind 9-0. Four three pointers later, William & Mary led the Tar Heels 12-11.

Carolina came back with an 18-8 run highlighted by a Marcus Ginyard triple and a Tyler Zeller dunk to put the Heels up 29-20. The largest lead of the half came at the buzzer as Larry Drew II dished to Deon Thompson for a dunk to make it 43-33.

Just like in the Georgia Tech game, Carolina blew a 10-point halftime lead. In less than three minutes, the Tribe drained three threes and drew within one at 45-44. Up 55-50 with less than 15 minutes to play, Carolina went cold and William & Mary went on a 9-0 run to take a 59-55 lead with less than 12 minutes to play.

UNC freshman Leslie McDonald popped in a three to get the Heels going again. Two minutes later, Ginyard sank a three from the corner to give Carolina the lead at 65-64 with 9:05 to go.

The score went back and forth but when William & Mary's David Schneider, who led the Tribe with 21 points, hit his seventh three of the game with 5:08 left, the Tribe led 72-69.

That's when Carolina went on an 11-0 run as William & Mary never scored again. Dexter Strickland converted four straight free throws and Drew converted two in a one-and-one situation to give the Heels a 75-72 advantage.

With 50 seconds left, Zeller came up with a steal and drove downcourt for a dunk and a 77-72 cushion. Schneider missed a couple of threes and that was that.

Thompson led the Tar Heels, now 17-16, with 20 points while Zeller added 13 and Ginyard contributed 12.

Carolina now travels to favored Mississippi State Saturday at noon in the second round of the NIT.

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