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Off the cuff: This was a big win for Carolina. The Tar Heels probably should have beaten Notre Dame at home in the previous game but let it slip away.

Had the Heels not come back to win this game, the loss not only would have hurt the players' confidence but the home loss would have hurt in the ACC standings.

Instead, Louisville feels the sting. "It was a great game, a great atmosphere," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "It stings as much as any game I’ve coached. Our players are very hurt by it, but that’s the ACC. There will be a lot of games like this. A lot of great teams in the ACC. We’ll move on from there.”

Notre Dame beat UNC by a point and UNC beat Louisville by a point.

This was the first time Carolina has played back-to-back one-point games since the 1981 ACC Tournament. That year, playing at the Capital Centre in Maryland, the Tar Heels beat Wake Forest, 58-57, in the semifinals and Maryland, 61-60, in the ACC championship game.

The Tar Heels went to the Final Four that season.

Tar Heels 72, Louisville 71
UNC gets that comeback magic

Against Notre Dame, North Carolina came from 11 down to take a lead and appeared to have that old comeback magic the Tar Heels have been known for since the Dean Smith days. But the Tar Heels gave up that lead and fell at home to the Irish. (1/10)

Against 5th ranked Louisville Saturday the Tar Heels were down by 13 to the Cardinals with less than nine minutes to go. From that point on Carolina outscored Louisville 22-9.

Marcus Paige, who hadn't played well most of the game, drove in for a tough, high-off-the-backboard layup with 8.5 seconds left to put the Heels up 72-71.

Louisville's Wayne Blackshear missed an open 3 from in front of the Cardinals bench and Chris Jones, who shot lights out during the game, missed an off-balance follow shot at the buzzer.

"We can't play any better than that," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said.

UNC's Brice Johnson, who had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, said the win was a "confidence builder" coming off the failed comeback against Notre Dame Monday night. "It was an all-around team effort tonight," Johnson said.

The Tar Heels trailed by as many as six points in the first half but came back to lead by five before settling for a 34-all tie at the half.

Carolina shot only 37 percent in the first half and continued that futility early in the second half as Louisville got out to a 49-40 lead after the first five minutes.

But despite trailing 63-50, the Tar Heels managed to shoot 52 percent in the second half.

Freshman Joel Berry drained a three and Paige, who had to go to the training room midway through the second half with an ankle injury, swished in a three to give the Tar Heels some hope.

A 10-2 run, which featured JP Tokoto prominently - he scored on a layup after getting a loose ball, passed to Johnson for a bucket and tipped in his own miss, cut the Louisville lead to one at 69-68.

The Tar Heels took a 70-69 lead on a Paige to Johnson bucket with 38 seconds left but Terry Rozier, who had a game-high 25 points, hit a pull-up 12-foot jumper with 25 seconds left to put Louisville back up by one.

That set up the dramatic, magical Carolina final seconds.

Paige, who hit the game winner, said he had missed some layups around the rim against Notre Dame and this was his opportunity to come through for the team.

"We needed this one," Paige said. "We had an opportunity to get a quality win the last game (against Notre Dame) and let it slip through. To come through, fight back and get a win like this sets us up well for the future."

Kennedy Meeks led four Tar Heels in double figures with 13 points while Johnson scored 11 and Paige and Tokoto added 10 each.

Louisville falls to 14-2 and 2-1 in the ACC while Carolina improves to 12-4 and 2-1 in the ACC.


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