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Off the cuff: Carolina knows much more about itself than when starting the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

The Tar Heels, lacking energy, were physically dominated in the first game against Butler. But the next two games against ranked opponents bodes well for the rest of the season.

UNC saw physical play from Butler, speed from UCLA and screening and pressure from Florida.

Except for the Butler game, the Tar Heels adjusted well and played with aggression. Also, a lot of players got good experience.

Tar Heels 75, Florida 64
Heels beat Gators to finish tourney

North Carolina may have only finished fifth in the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas but after losing to Butler in the first round, the Tar Heels defeated a pair of top 25 teams - first UCLA and now No. 18 Florida. (11/28)

The Tar Heels, who raced out to a commanding 12-0 lead in the first six minutes and led by 16 at the half, withstood a Gator rally that cut the margin to seven with two minutes to go in the 75-64 victory.

"Our defense was in tune," UNC's Marcus Paige said regarding the quick start. "And we transferred the intensity from the previous (UCLA) game."

He said that while he was happy with the way the team played in the last two games, he said he was frustrated that the Heels needed to learn a lesson by losing to Butler in the first round of the tournament.

All five starters scored in double figures for Carolina with Kennedy Meeks leading the way with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Paige, who hit nine of 10 free throws, finished with 16 points while Austin Jackson, who had four steals, had 12 points including 8 while the Heels were surging out to a 25-8 lead.

JP Tokoto and Brice Johnson each added 10 points.

Carolina seemed to be in control when the Heels got their biggest lead at 36-18 but Florida came out and put together a 12-4 run in the first five minutes of the second half.

The Tar Heels worked the lead back up to 15 after a nate Britt three and a Isiah Hicks driving basket on a nifty pass from Meeks to make it 56-41 with less than nine minutes to play.

The Heels were up by 13 following a three by Paige with just over four minutes to play but the Gators responded with an 8-2 run over two minutes to cut the score to 67-60.

Carolina burned clock and got to the free throw line late with Paige and Johnson sinking four each to wrap it up.

There were a lot of fouls in the game as the two teams combined for 47 fouls and 54 free throws.

The Tar Heels held the Gators to just 33 percent shooting from the field including just six of 27 from beyond the arc. On a negative note, the Tar Heels didn't handle the press well at times and turned the ball over 19 times.

UNC, now 5-1, host Iowa Wednesday night.


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