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Off the cuff:


Tar Heels 72, Virginia Tech 60
Heels turn the Paige in overtime to win

North Carolina got down 12-0, trailed by six at the half, used strong defense to pull even and finally turned the page in overtime to defeat Virginia Tech 72-60. (2/2)

They turned to Paige, Marcus Paige in overtime. Paige scored eight in overtime and, after breaking the Hokies press, dished to Leslie McDonald for another bucket.

Paige had turned the ball over late in regulation, giving Virginia Tech an opportunity for the last shot. But Eric Green, who leads the nation in scoring, missed a long fade-away two pointer to leave it 55-55.

"Turning the ball over at the end of regulation like that made me want to play better in overtime," the freshman Paige said.

In overtime, Desmond Hubert gave the Tar Heels a 57-55 lead with a tip follow. With the Heels ahead just 59-58 and three minutes left, Paige took over.

Paige swished a three from the left wing to make it 62-58 with 2:57 left. It was the largest Carolina lead up to that point.

Following a Virginia Tech turnover, Paige stroked in a baseline jumper from the right side to put the Heels up 64-58.

He hit the first of a one-and-one, made that assist McDonald and then hit two free throws to put the game out of reach at 69-60 with a minute left.

"He made some big shots for us," Coach Roy Williams said of Paige. "In the overtime, he was the most important player for us on the court."

Outscoring the Hokies 17-5 in overtime overshadowed the poor shooting earlier in the game.

"I felt lucky to be in the overtime," Williams said.

"It wasn't very pretty until the overtime part. Then it was pretty in overtime."

The Tar Heels shot just 38 percent for the game.

Carolina was playing without sharpshooter P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock struggled from the field (one of eight from three, three of 13 from the floor).

The one three that Bullock had tied the score at 42-all with 13 minutes left. It was the first time it had been scored since 0-0.

The lead went back and forth until the tie took it to overtime.

The Tar Heels missed some easy shots and turned the ball over a few times in the first half which allowed Virginia Tech to get up 12-0 and stay ahead the whole half.

Carolina pulled within one on a three by Paige with 2:14 left in the half but a bad shot selection, a turnover, and two blunders on defense allowed the Hokies to take a 32-26 halftime lead.

But the Tar Heels defense allowed them to get back in it. The Heels held the Hokies to just two of their last 14 shots. Virginia Tech's Green scored 16 points, nine below his average, as the Heels held him to just seven of 21 shooting.

Dexter Strickland and three other different Tar Heels defended Green during the game.

"We kept fresh legs on him," Paige said. "We were active defensively. He goes on scoring spurts against tired defenders."

Paige finished the 19 points but James Michael McAdoo led the Heels with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Bullock added 11 for the Heels who advanced to 15-6 and 5-3 in the ACC.


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