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Off the cuff: When Notre Dame was in the midst of its big run against Carolina, the Tar Heels helped with several turnovers. The Irish were hot and were going to score their points but if the Heels just hadn't helped out with those turnovers, we'd be talking about UNC as the ACC champions.

Carolina had 13 turnovers for the whole game but six of them came from the 8:44 mark of the second half to the 4 minute mark of the second half - fewer than five minutes. During that time the Heels went from five up to 10 down.

Also during that stretch, Notre Dame hit 11 of 13 shots, including four threes. Meanwhile, Carolina was barely even getting shots on its trips down the court. Tough to come back from that.

This game illustrates how different the game of basketball has become with the ever-growing reliance on the three-point shot. Notre Dame hits 39 percent of its threes normally and the Irish hit 50 percent in this game, accounting for a third of their points.

Free throws accounted for another third. I know I'm not from the attention deficit generation and I'm probably an old fuddy duddy, but I prefer when a team with the most baskets and the most rebounds wins the game.

The Tar Heels scored nine more baskets and had two more rebounds. But this is not the game we have today. I enjoy seeing the occasional three pointer but when you have two teams taking 44 of them, that's a bit much.

I need to crank up the VCR and watch an old tournament final I guess - from back in the day when there were eight teams in the league - and Notre Dame wasn't one of them.

Notre Dame 90, Tar Heels 82
Notre Dame run ends Carolina's hopes

Notre Dame, trailing North Carolina by nine midway through the second half, went on an amazing and quick 26-3 run that ended Carolina's hopes of winning four games in four days. The Irish's 90-82 win in the finals of the ACC Tournament gave them their first conference tournament title in any sport. (3/14)

With 9:54 left, UNC's Marcus Paige banged in a three to give the surging Tar Heels a 63-54 lead. After that, if you blinked, you missed Notre Dame taking the lead. Over the next 1:50, the Irish outscored the Heels 13-1 and took a 67-64 lead on a three by Pat Connaughton - Notre Dame's third three of the run.

It didn't get better as Carolina scored just once on its next eight possessions. During a stretch of 2:20, the Tar Heels turned the ball over five times and the Irish took advantage each time but one. In fewer than five minutes during the onslaught, Carolina had six of its 13 turnovers.

By the end of the 26-3 run, the Tar Heels trailed by 14 with fewer than three minutes to go at 80-66. Paige scored 10 points in the last two minutes as the Heels kept fighting but the damage was done.

"We were finally able to get some stops," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We're good offensively and we got into rhythm."

Brey said he's not sure any other team can get into a rhythm like that. "We got really cocky," he said.

The Tar Heels, who shot 53 percent from the floor themselves, surely had some confidence early in the second half when they erased a five-point halftime deficit. Carolina went on a 9-0 run out of the lockerroom as their offense was fluid and their defense forcing turnovers. Just like that, the Tar Heels were up by four at 43-39 three minutes into the second half.

A Paige three from the top of the key gave Carolina its biggest lead to that point at 48-41 with 15 minutes left.

A Joel Berry three and an assist from Berry to Brice Johnson gave the Tar Heels a nine-point cushion with 11:33 left. But Notre Dame was just two minutes away from its winning barrage.

The three-point and free throw lines played a big part in this one as Notre Dame scored 30 points from beyond the arc and 28 from the free throw line. They were 10 of 20 from three and 28 of 32 from the line. By comparison, Carolina got to the line just seven times.

UNC coach Roy Williams said it was difficult to guard the Irish as they would penetrate and get fouled or kick it back out for a three. And during that stretch, "their defense got stronger after every basket," he said.

Without getting a bye as the fifth seed, Carolina had to play four games in four days but Williams said fatigue had nothing to do with it. "We did some good things for three days and about 30 or 32 minutes today," he said.

"We had a bad stretch tonight," he said but, "this team has a chance to make a really good run (in the NCAA Tournament)."

The 24-11 Tar Heels, who were led by Paige's 24 points and Johnson's 20 points, wait to find their NCAA seeding Sunday afternoon. The Irish, now 29-5, had all five starters in double figures with Jerian Grant (24) and Connaughton (20) leading the way.


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