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Off the cuff: This could have been a season-saving victory for the Tar Heels. Virginia played well. It's not often that you'll beat a team by 12 when that team shoots nearly 60 percent.

Carolina scored 53 points in the second half, which is a point more than the Heels scored the entire game when they played at Virginia in early January.

Even though Hairston was the scoring star of the game with 29, this was a team effort.

Marcus Paige kept the Tar Heels in the game in the first half with some key baskets and some key assists.

Reggie Bullock, who has been fighting a cold and back and knee pain, had 11 points, four assists and four steals.

James Michael McAdoo, who was doubled teamed most of the way, hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds.

And Dexter Strickland, who was able to get down court quickly on fast breaks, scored 12 points, had six assists and only turned the ball over once.

That all being said, only two other players - Brice Johnson, who had six points, and Leslie McDonald, who has seven - played more than eight minutes.

Since going to the shorter lineup, minutes have greatly diminished for Johnson, Desmond Hubert, Jackson Simmons and Joel James (who has been out with a concussion).

It was good to see Frank Tanner, a seldom-used walk-on player, get his first bucket as a Tar Heel during the last minute of the game.


Tar Heels 93, Virginia 81
Hairston bangs in 29 as NC comes back

North Carolina's new starter P.J. Hairston scored a career-high 29 points as the Tar Heels came back from a 10-point deficit, and two straight defeats, to beat Virginia by a dozen, 93-81 in Chapel Hill. (2/16)

The Tar Heels scored just nine points in the first eight minutes of the game but came back to score 31 in 12 minutes and 53 in the last 20 minutes.

Virginia led 29-19 with nine minutes left in the first half but Carolina went on a 12-1 run over the next five minutes to take a 31-30 lead after James Michael McAdoo hit a baseline jumper.

Back-to-back threes by Hairston kept the Tar Heels up but a running three from near midcourt by UVA's Evans tied the score at 40 at the halftime buzzer.

Virgina hit 63 percent in the first half including eight three pointers but the Cavs cooled a bit in the second half while the Tar Heels shot better.

Carolina took control of the game in the first few minutes of the second half by going on a 10-2 run. A driving layup by McAdoo, who most of the day was double teamed when he got the ball, started the run. A driving layup by Hairston, who put it up with the left hand, ended the run.

Cavalier Joe Harris, who finished with a career-high 27 points, kept Virginia in the game as he scored 11 straight points to keep the Cavs within striking distance at 58-53.

A Reggie Bullock three followed by a Marcus Paige three got the lead up to 10 at 69-59 with 9:41 left.

A 10-2 Carolina run in less than four minutes gave the Heels their biggest lead of the game at 83-65 with 5:33 to go. However, over the next two minutes, Virginia outscored Carolina 9-0 to cut the deficit in half with 3:14 left.

The Tar Heels, who have had problems from the charity stripe, wrapped it up by hitting 10 straight free throws down the stretch as Virginia was forced to foul.

"We made some shots today," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "We needed to have a good feeling in the lockerroom after a game after losing at Miami and at Duke."

Carolina hit 22 of 30 free throws, the most the Heels have shot this season, and hit 13 of 28 three pointers to offset Virginia's hot shooting. UVA finished shooting 58.5 from the floor.

The Tar Heels also had a season-low seven turnovers and outrebounded the Cavaliers 33-24.

Joining Hairston in double figures were Paige, who had 17, Dexter Strickland, who had 12 and Reggie Bullock, who had 11.

Carolina improves to 17-8 and 7-5 in the ACC while Virginia falls to 18-7 and 8-4 in the ACC. It's important to note that the Cavs have yet to play league leaders Miami and Duke.


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