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Off the cuff: UNC Players' quotes after the big victory at Maryland.

Junior Guard Reggie Bullock:

On Maryland's second-half run:

"They were trying to make a run and had a good stretch to cut it to six points. We had to be mentally tough. Out of the timeout we made some plays. Marcus [Paige] started us off with a three pointer. He made a great shot, and we just turned it up."

On North Carolina's play:

"We're getting better every game. Everybody is sharing the ball up front, and we're talking on defense. We just have to keep doing that."

On the rebounding battle:

"We tried to be big on the boards. We had a small lineup in there so we had to make plays. Maryland is one of the best rebounding teams in the league."

Senior Guard Dexter Strickland

On playing with a small lineup:

"I don't think it has anything to do with the lineup. I think it's because our guys have more experience on the floor. We know what we have to do to get a win. Everyone is playing as a team. The team chemistry is there and everyone is playing hard."

On the play of Marcus Paige:

"He bounced back quickly. We need him to do that. If he turns the ball over, he can't dwell on that turnover and let it affect his game. He hit a big three for us. You can see his confidence growing with each game."

Sophomore Guard P.J. Hairston

On his rebounding effort tonight:

"That's been the key the last couple of games. I would finish with three or four rebounds. This game I knew that Maryland was leading the conference in rebounding, so my goal was just to crash the boards."

On stopping Maryland's second-half run:

"We played with poise; we didn't let their run affect us. We had a couple of turnovers which led to a layup and a three-point basket. After that we played with poise and hit some shots."

On playing better on the road of late:

"We all bought in. We realized that even though we're on the road, that we are the same team. We can play like this anytime regardless of if we are at home or on the road. We just have to play with heart."

Tar Heels 79, Maryland 68
Smaller Heels whip Terps to earn bye

With North Carolina playing a taller Maryland team and with Tar Heel James Michael McAdoo in foul trouble, it took big games by both Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston to give UNC a 79-68 win at Maryland. (3/6)

Bullock scored 19 points and hauled in 12 rebounds while Hairston, who left the game for several minutes after slipping awkwardly, scored 22 points and got eight rebounds.

"We have a height disadvantage," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Rebounding is always a concern of ours with a short lineup."

Williams added that it was impressive that his team got 20 rebounds from its wing players - Bullock and Hairston.

The Tar Heels have been on a run since Williams put Hairston into the starting lineup and diminished playing time for taller players. Carolina has now won six in a row and gone from an NCAA bubble team to a lock with a chance to make some noise in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

The victory guarantees that the Tar Heels will get a first-day bye in the ACC Tournament. Since the tourney format change, no team without a bye has won the tournament.

Williams said the team has come a long way as they have bought into playing with a sense of urgency and playing unselfishly.

The Tar Heels got out to a 12-4 lead in the first five minutes but the Terrapins came back to take a three-point lead at 27-24 with 3:22 left in the half.

The game then turned quickly and Carolina took control with a 10-0 to finish out the first half. Leslie McDonald hit a jumper to start the run and Hairston hit a three from the left corner to give UNC the lead for good.

Bullock hit a baseline jumper and Marcus Paige drained a three with nine seconds left to give the Tar Heels a 34-27 halftime lead.

Five minutes into the second half, a very long three by Hairston put Carolina up 44-31.

The lead got as high as 16 when McAdoo hit a fade-away jumper with just more than 12 minutes to play to give Carolina a 51-35 lead.

With seven minutes to go, Maryland started a two-minute run that saw the Terps cut the margin to just six at 63-57. A pair of backcourt turnovers by Paige led to five Maryland points in seconds to take the lead from 11 to six.

But it was Paige who stopped the bleeding with a big three at the end of the shot clock to put the Heels back up by nine. On a set play, McAdoo followed with a bank shot inside in which he was fouled. He hit the free throw and order was restored with the Heels up 69-57 with four minutes left.

The Tar Heels hit eight free throws down the stretch to maintain a double-digit lead the rest of the day.

Perhaps the key stat of the game came from beyond the arc where the Tar Heels hit 10 of 24 while the Terps hit only three of 23.

The Terrapins drop to 20-10 and 8-9 in the ACC. On the NCAA bubble, Maryland needs a win against Virginia to have a chance at going to the big dance.

The Tar Heels go into the final regular season game of the year at home against Duke Saturday with a 22-8 record including 12-5 in the ACC.


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