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Off the cuff: This loss to Butler shows that focus, toughness, aggressiveness and intelligence can beat talent. This loss, especially after the Heels see they can come from behind, will help Carolina. I suspect the Tar Heels will have that focus, toughness, aggressiveness and intelligence as the team matures.

The Tar Heels played with intensity but only after getting down by 29. Had Carolina started the second half with the same intensity, the Heels would have won despite being down by 17 at the half.

Or if the Heels had somehow stopped four big three pointers by Butler's Kellen Dunham over a period of less than five minutes, they'd have had a chance. To put it in perspective, Dunham had hit four three pointers in Bulter's first three games over 88 minutes of play.

Everybody is ready to play North Carolina and unless these young Tar Heels realize that and match the opponent's intensity from the start, there could be other games like this one.

I suspect that next time though, these Tar Heels will come all the way back. For their sake, and for Coach Williams' health, hopefully the Heels won't see another 29-point deficit this season.

Something I've noticed this season, and less so other seasons, and never 20 plus years ago - some UNC players have poor grammar. I know, I know, who cares if they can play basketball. But in light of the focus on UNC's academics for athletes and with the history of well-spoken players at Carolina, it is a bit disconcerting. Without naming names, here are portions of comments after the game: "...that's what Butler do." "We was just bein' more aggressive." "...gettin' they shooters open."

Yes, this team has a lot to work on.


Butler 82, Tar Heels 71
Heels get way down, can't catch up

North Carolina, behind 35-18 at the half, got down by 29 points in the second half to Butler, fought back to within six before finally falling 82-71 in the semi-finals of the Maui Invitational. (11/20)

It was the first time since 1998 that the Tar Heels scored fewer than 20 points in a half and it was the first time in six visits to Maui that the Heels have failed to make the finals.

It was a far cry from the previous night's 95-49 win over Mississippi State. "It was so easy last night, perhaps we were fat and happy at the start," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

Carolina, which trailed by double figures most of the game, never led as Butler raced out to a 10-2 lead.

Instead of the Tar Heels picking up the intensity to start the second half, Butler outscored Carolina 17-8 over the first five minutes to double up the Heels at 52-26.

Butler seemingly had the game salted away after getting up 60-31 with just 12 minutes left.

A frantic 12-2 Carolina run over the next two minutes, highlighted by a pair of threes from P.J. Hairston, got the Butler lead under 20 at 62-43.

A slew of threes by Butler (they were seven of nine behind the arc in the second half), kept the Tar Heels from getting the deficit under 10 until late in the game.

A 17-4 UNC run over three minutes got the lead down to six at 77-71 with 1:04 left. Freshman Marcus Paige was the catalyst during the run as he scored eight including an old-fashioned three-point play on a driving basket and a three-point shot.

The Tar Heels missed shots and Butler made free throws to wrap up the victory.

"We got it to six and I'm dumb enough to think we're going to win," Williams said. "We dug too deep a hole against a very good team."

Williams said that Butler was more physical, more assertive, more aggressive and more ready to play.

Butler outrebounded Carolina 36-27 as the Heels got only one offensive rebound in the first half. Butler got 12 points off offensive rebounds in the first half compared to zero for UNC.

Carolina, now 4-1, was led by Hairston's 15 points and seven rebounds. Paige and Reggie Bullock finished with 13 each while James Michael McAdoo had 10.

The Tar Heels play in the third-place game against host Chaminade at 7:30 Wednesday.


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