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Off the cuff: I hate when games appear closer than they actually were. Ohio State made the game look closer than it was by scoring 10 threes.

But an even biggest element was Carolina making just one of eight from the free throw line late in the win over the Buckeyes. The seven-point final margin should have been 13 or 14 - especially with Carolina's best free throw shooters going to the line.

But that should detract from the fact that the Tar Heels beat the No. 12 team in the country and did it rather convincingly. The UNC defense was tough, save three or four lapses, and the shots were falling, especially in the first half when the Heels shot 51 percent.

Joel Berry provided a nice spark in the first half when he scored five points over 34 seconds to turn a seven-point lead into a 12-point advantage.

Tar Heels 82, Ohio State 74
UNC dominates, then hangs on vs. OSU

North Carolina played about as well as it has played this season, leading by 18 over No. 12 Ohio State, but wound up hanging on for an 82-74 win in Chicago. (12/20)

The Tar Heels controlled the tempo early and withstood six three-pointers by the Buckeyes to lead by 12 at the half, 43-31.

"We did some very good things," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "We were controlling the game." Then, Williams said the Heels stunk it up at the end of the first half and at the end of the game.

Highlights in the first half from Carolina, which shot 51 percent in the half, included a spinning follow shot by JP Tokoto, who was fouled and sank the free throw to work the lead to double figures at 27-17.

Later, Marcus Paige swished a three with 51 seconds left in the half to give UNC its largest lead of the half at 43-27. But the Heels gave up two easy baskets in the last 35 seconds to cut the margin to 12 at the half.

Carolina extended the lead to 18 at 64-46 midway through the second half when the Heels went on a 13-5 run, highlighted by a battling Kennedy Meeks bucket resulting in an old-fashioned three-point play.

Ohio State chipped away, mainly through the free throw line as they sank eight straight free throws over the span of 70 seconds to cut the lead to 70-62.

Despite the fact that Carolina missed seven of eight free throws during a stretch late, the Buckeyes never got closer than seven. Paige, the Tar Heels best free throw shooter of all time, missed three of them while Justin Jackson, the team's second best free throw shooting percentage wise, missed the other four.

Ohio State, which had lived by the three, died by the three late as the Buckeyes missed badly on three straight trips down the court in the last minute. The Buckeyes shot 10 of 29 from beyond the arc.

Carolina controlled the boards, 53-40, and held Ohio State to just 35 percent from the floor.

Brice Johnson led the Heels with 18 points while Paige added 16 and Jackson chipped in 11. Meeks led the Heels with 13 rebounds.

The Tar Heels, 8-3, are now 3-1 against ranked teams. Ohio State falls to 9-2.

Carolina returns to action at home Dec. 27 at home against UAB.


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