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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels, playing again without John Henson, were actually outrebounded by the shorter, less-talented Vermont Catamounts, 42-37.

But during a couple of game-determining runs, Carolina controlled the boards and got numerous follow baskets. In that regard, the stat is misleading, but if the Tar Heels lose another rebounding battle, they'll probably lose the NCAA Tournament war.

Hopefully, Henson will be back against Creighton and the Heels will once again control the boards.

The Tar Heels did force 19 turnovers from Vermont, which had only five turnovers in its first NCAA game.

Carolina shot only 41 percent for the game with birthday boy Reggie Bullock having the worst shooting day as he managed only two of 10 field goals.

Tar Heels 77, Vermont 58
Sluggish, poor-shooting Heels advance

North Carolina, behind a career-high 17 points from James Michael McAdoo, overcame a sluggish start to defeat Vermont 77-58 in the Tar Heels' first game of the NCAA Tournament. (3/16)

UNC, which hit just six of its first 27 shots and finished 41 percent from the field, got plenty of good shot opportunities in the first half but the Tar Heels just weren't hitting them. McAdoo, subbing for injured John Henson, missed four straight good looks in the first half before a one-handed power dunk follow awakened the Greensboro crowd to make it 15-9 midway through the first half.

A 12-2 run over just a two-minute span late in the first half put Carolina up by double figures and led to a 37-25 lead at the break. Reggie Bullock started the streak with a three from the right corner and Harrison Barnes finished the run with a short jumper in the lane.

The shooting woes continued to start the second half as the Catamounts stayed even with the Heels over the first six minutes of the second half. But the the Tar Heels height and superior talent started to take over.

With the Heels up by 10 at 43-33, they turned up the defensive pressure, made some follow shots and hit a three over the next five minutes to open it up. The 17-4 run put the Heels up 60-37 with just over eight minutes to play. Barnes scored seven points during that period and P.J. Hairston drained a three.

A Barnes open three with 6:04 left gave the Heels a commanding 25-point margin at 67-42. "Vermont came out very physical and aggressive and it took us a while to hit our stride," said Barnes, who scored 14.

The largest margin came after a McAdoo follow with 3:25 to go which made it 73-46.

Kendall Marshall, who had 11 points and 10 assists, and Zeller, who had 17 points, left the game with more than four minutes to play.

The Tar Heels, 30-5, play Creighton Sunday at 5:15 p.m. in an effort to make it to the Sweet 16.


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