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Off the cuff: Well, against Maryland we found out that Carolina can win a game when not shooting free throws well. This time, at Notre Dame, we learned that the Heels can win after getting behind early.

The Irish hit their first four three pointers and got out to a 19-10 lead midway through the first half.

The Tar Heels were able to withstand the hot streak, the slow pace and several easy shot misses.

Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo per usual were key. But JP Tokoto's aggressiveness on the boards and by stealing the ball really helped.

Had he hit his free throws the game really would have been a blowout as Tokoto accounted for four of Carolina's five misses from the line.

On a positive note, the Tar Heels hit their last 12 free throws and McAdoo, who has struggled mightily from the line, went six of six.

Tar Heels 73, Notre Dame 62
UNC changes the pace to topple Irish

North Carolina, trailing by nine against a hot-shooting Notre Dame team in the first half, turned up the pace late in the first half and continued it into the second half to top the Irish 73-62. (2/8)

Over the last two minutes of the first half and the first six minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels outscored the Irish 24-7 and turned a deficit into a 14-point lead at 44-30.

The game had been a laboriously slow one highlighted by four three pointers from Notre Dame before Marcus Paige almost single-handedly changed the pace.

First he drove the left side for a layup with 2:18 lef in the first half. Then he banged in a quick three from the top of the key. After a James Michael McAdoo dunk follow, Paige passed a mini alley-oop to McAdoo with two seconds left in the half to give Carolina a 27-23 lead.

"We played with some poise," UNC coach Roy Williams said, mentioning the Irish quick start. "We got going at the end of the half."

The Tar Heels continued hot into the second half. A McAdoo steal and pass to Leslie McDonald for a layup started things off. A JP Tokoto steal and two-handed dunk continued the run. And a pair of nifty fast break buckets - one with Brice Johnson assisting and one with Johnson dunking - put the Heels in control 44-30.

Carolina got the lead up to 16 at 57-41 before Notre Dame went on an 8-0 run to cut the margin in half. But after Tokoto missed four straight free throws, Tar Heel players canned 12 in a row to keep the Irish at bay as the Heels settled for an 11-point final margin.

"Our defense was more active in the second half," Coach Williams said. "We came up with loose balls and turnovers ang got our break going."

Carolina forced 17 Irish turnovers and recorded 13 steals. McAdoo and Tokoto led the way with four steals each.

McAdoo led the way with 18 points while Paige contributed 16. Tokoto added 13 while Johnson had 10.

It was the fifth straight win for the Tar Heels, who now sit at 6-4 in the ACC and 16-7 overall with a Duke date looming Wednesday. Notre Dame falls to 12-12 and 3-8 in the league.



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