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Off the cuff: Carolina went from the Not Ready for Primetime Players to the Big Time in one game. After falling flat at Illinois before a wild crowd, the Tar Heels came back to win at home before a boisterous crowd in Chapel Hill.

"The crowd helped us tonight," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "The fans can help us, they really can, but they gotta do it all the time."

Of course a CBS national game on a weekend day against one of the best programs in college basketball history is a little more special than playing UNC-Asheville on regional TV on a weeknight. Naturally fans were fired up for this one.

Carolina needed to stay focused and fired up to offset the nine three-pointers that Kentucky drained. The Heels, on the other hand, had only one three pointer. So, the 26 points from the foul line and the eight blocked shots were big for the Tar Heels.

Still, Carolina only shot 70 percent from the line and John Henson missed the goal entirely on two consecutive attempts. But they were 14 of 16 over the final five minutes of the game.

Clark "That's a great point Gus" Kellogg does not belong as the lead color commentator of college basketball on CBS. As much as Billy Packer is considered a Carolina hater, he would be so much better even at 70 years old.

Not only does Kellogg's escalating voice grate after a while but he is so often wrong. Granted, I have the advantage of going back and pausing action but three times he claimed Zeller "slid into" a player when trying to draw a charge and he was wrong each time.

The officials (who were from the ACC) were wrong two of those times (one actually got it right but was overruled). Announcer Gus Johnson said the officiating was "excellent" and the game had a good flow to it. Huh?

First of all, the game ran two hours and 21 minutes. That's a good flowing game? Those taping the game missed 21 minutes if they didn't extend the time over the normal less than two-hour game. There were 46 fouls called.

Secondly, that was the worst officiated game I've seen this year. Again, I have the advantage of going back and pausing action but here are a few of the bad calls or non calls.

In the first half, Kentucky's Terrence Jones traveled by backing in and then tripped trying to get through a double team. UNC was called for a foul.

A minute later, UNC's John Henson was fouled hard inside but it wasn't called yet seconds later on the other end, a blocking call was made against a stationary Carolina player.

On Carolina's next trip down the court, Doron Lamb grabbed Zeller's arm inside and then Jones elbowed Zeller's head as he came over top and blocked it out off Carolina. No fouls.

Just before the half, Jones stepped out of bounds under the basket but officials missed it, and seconds later a foul was called on UNC.

The game seemed to settle down for the officials a bit in the second half. But, in addition to the questionable blocking calls on Zeller, there was an over and back not called and an obvious travel violation not called.

Despite Kellogg explaining that Carolina fans were wrong to protest the over and back non-call because players can go backcourt on inbound plays, that wasn't the problem. The problem was that the Kentucky player caught the ball with his left front in the front court and then his momentum took his right foot to the backcourt. Unless the rule has changed again, that's over and back.

Later, Lamb and a teammate ran into each other on a handoff pass and Lamb took a couple of quick steps and then changed his pivot foot. That's travelling - two or three times over.

Tar Heels 75, Kentucky 73
NC hits free throws late to beat Wildcats

After being tied at 61 with nearly seven minutes to play, North Carolina never scored a basket again but the Tar Heels did score 14 free throws down the stretch to defeat 10th ranked Kentucky 75-73. (12/4)

UNC's Tyler Zeller had a career-best 27 points including 11 of 12 from the free throw line, 10 of which came in the last 4:19.

There were 14 lead changes during the game including five in those last four minutes.

Down 65-61, Reggie Bullock passed to a streaking Zeller who was fouled. Zeller sank both free throws to pull the Heels to within two. Less than a minute later, John Henson, on his tip toes to avoid stepping out of bounds, found Zeller inside but he was fouled. Zeller again got both free throws to fall to tie the score at 65.

The lead went back and forth. Kentucky's Josh Harrelson muscled up an offensive rebound for two to make it 69-68 Wildcats with only 53 seconds left.

Within seconds, Carolina got the ball to Zeller inside again and Harrelson fouled out of the game (one of four Kentucky players to do so). Zeller canned two more to give the Tar Heels a 70-69 lead with 47 seconds to play.

Kentucky failed to score and Larry Drew got his hands on the rebound but was fouled with 21 seconds left. Drew, who hasn't been a reliable free throw shooter, got both to give the Heels a 72-69 lead. The Wildcats drew within one on free throws with 12 seconds left but Zeller once again got fouled inside and hit two free throws for a three-point cushion with 10 seconds left.

The Wildcats pulled within one with six seconds left but Dexter Strickland was fouled on the inbounds. He sank the first one but missed the second one. It took a couple of seconds for Kentucky to come away with the rebound and a desperation shot from midcourt fell short and wide and the Tar Heels held on to move to 5-3 on the season.

No. 10 Kentucky, led by Doron Lamb's season-high 24 points, falls to 5-2 on the year.

Zeller said he normally tries to think about nothing when he's shooting free throws but he did give himself a little motivational talk at the line late in the game. Coach Roy Williams said he like the Heels toughness throughout but especially getting to the line and hitting free throws.

"It's a fun time in the lockerroom," Williams said. "It was a big time win for us."

Zeller also had 11 rebounds and five blocks shots for the Heels. Frontcourt mate John Henson scored 13 points, hauled in 12 rebounds and had three blocks. Harrison Barnes, who had a highlight reel one-handed rebound dunk follow in the first half, finished with 12 points.

The Tar Heels play at Evansville Wednesday night in a homecoming to Indiana for Zeller.

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