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Off the cuff: After Ivan Cruz Uceda drilled a pair of threes midway through the second half, it was starting to look like one of those games where the Tar Heels played well and still lost - like Duke and Pittsburgh.

(By the way, Uceda, from Spain, had his best game of season with 11 points. Uceda got into college in the United States without being able to speak English. Does that work for people under 6-foot-10?)

Anyway, freshman Joel Berry, who was injured much of the season, came through with a big three pointer to start a run that put Carolina in control. It was good to see Berry get 15 minutes of playing time.

It was also good to see Brice Johnson play aggressively on both the offensive and defensive boards. He also shot well.

Carolina had lost five of seven before this win which seems big as the Heels go into the last two games of the regular season - at Georgia Tech and at home against Duke.

During those five losses, the Tar Heels really only played poorly against NC State, although they haven't put it all together over the course of a game since probably the Syracuse win.

They didn't click on all cylinders in this game either as Kennedy Meeks, an important cog in the wheel, had just four points and turned the ball over three times. Coach Williams went so far as to say he stunk it up in the first half.

Joel James came off the bench to pick up the slack and six points and an assist.

But the Tar Heels are going to need consistent play - especially from starters Meeks, Johnson, Paige, Tokoto and Jackson to have any chance in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Tar Heels 73, Miami 64
Johnson's 22 lead Heels over Miami

Brice Johnson scored 22 points and hauled in 11 rebounds to lead North Carolina to a 73-64 win at Miami. (2/28)

"Brice was huge for us," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "He was the exact opposite of last Tuesday (when the Tar Heels lost to NC State). We need him to play like that for us."

The game was tied at 50 with just 8:30 left when UNC freshman Joel Berry buried a three for his only points of the game. Miami, which had taken a lead at 48-47 for the first time since it was 4-2, never tied or led again.

The Berry bucket started a 15-4 UNC run that put the Tar Heels in control at 65-54 with just 1:45 to go.

During the run, Johnson scored six points, four on dunks while Marcus Paige sank a falling down jumper at the end of the shot clock after the Heels burned time.

Over the last 1:45, Carolina hit 10 of 11 free throws, six of which came from Justin Jackson, to wrap it up.

In the first half, the Tar Heels led by as many as nine points, after a Paige three made it 20-11, but they had to settle for a 32-30 halftime lead.

"I was really pleased with the guys but we made some mistakes late in the first half," Coach Williams said, adding that the team listened at halftime. "I thought we were pretty doggone good in the second half."

Besides Johnson, the other Tar Heels in double figures were Paige (17 points), Jackson (11 points) and JP Tokoto (10 points and 10 rebounds).

Tokoto also had six assists and four steals, two of which that ended in his slamming down dunks.

Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda led Miami, now 18-11 and 8-8 in the league, with 11 points each. It was a career high for Uceda, who hit three triples including back-to-back ones that gave the Hurricanes a brief lead.

The Tar Heels, who play at Georgia Tech Tuesday, improve to 20-9 overall and 10-6 in the ACC.


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