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Off the cuff: If the Tar Heels could have held on to the 22-point lead they built, they might not have to be practicing on Thanksgiving Day and twice on Friday. Carolina players are still taking bad shots, rushing it, but the lack of aggressiveness and intensity on defense seems to be bothering Coach Williams most.

Still, he says this group of players will be a good team by the end of the season. Hopefully the confidence won't be crushed during the next tough stretch of games - College of Charleston, Illinois, Kentucky and Texas. I thought Carolina might lose two of those games but that was before they lost two other games I thought they'd win.

Reggie Bullock, who sat out the UNC-A game with a bad knee, should be back for those games. Coach Williams said as long as his health holds out, he'll be playing more minutes than he had been playing.

The 7-foot Zeller looked like a man among boys against UNC-Asheville as did John Henson, who led the team in rebounding and recorded his third double-double of the young season. Coach Williams said Henson, who many had figured to go pro early, needs to focus more on being a Dennis Rodman-type player than a Magic Johnson-type player. If so, maybe he will stay around at least through his junior year and maybe more.

Tar Heels 80, UNC-Asheville 69
Zeller's career high holds off Asheville

North Carolina, behind Tyler Zeller who hit his first seven baskets and ended with a career-high 23 points, got out to a commanding 22 point-lead but saw UNC-Asheville pull within six late before wrapping up an 80-69 win at home. (11/23)

The Tar Heels had their best free throw shooting game of the year (74 percent) and it was needed. Carolina hit eight of its last 10 free throws over the last three minutes to keep the Bulldogs at bay.

Midway through the first half, UNC-Asheville was playing UNC even. After UNC's Harrison Barnes hit an open three to put the Heels up 14-13 with 11:24 left, the Bulldogs never led again.

Carolina worked the margin up to 17 points at 44-27 mainly behind Zeller's 14 first-half points including a fluid sweeping left-handed dunk follow late in the half.

Up by 13 at the half, the Heels flew out to a 22-point lead early in the second half highlighted by a Barnes three from the top of the key. In less than five minutes the Bulldogs had the lead down to 12 where it hovered until UNC-Asheville reeled off seven straight points. The biggest bucket was a swished three from the right corner by J.P. Primm, who led the Bulldogs with 21 points. That made it 70-64 with 5:05 to play.

It never got closer as UNC's Justin Knox hit a half hook and the Heels hit those free throws down the stretch to wrap it up.

In addition to Zeller's 23, Barnes scored 13, Dexter Strickland had 11 while Justin Knox and John Henson added 10. Henson also had 11 rebounds and five blocks.

"At times we did some nice things but on the other hand UNC-Asheville was more aggressive than we were," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "We have a lot of things we have to work on."

Williams said the Heels, who have played four games in six days, appeared fatigued, took bad shots and weren't aggressive enough on defense

Carolina, which moves to 3-2, hosts the College of Charleston Sunday afternoon at 5:30.

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