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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels certainly played with more energy and aggressiveness against UCLA.

Carolina had 13 steals and did a better job of guarding the three-pointer. Perhaps Butler, who scored nine threes, is a better three-point shooting team but UNC held UCLA to one of 14 from beyond the arc.

With only normal starters Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson in the opening lineup, the Tar Heels responded. But while new starters Isiah Hicks and Nate Britt did well, the Tar Heels trailed 16-9 after the first six minutes.

Switching up the starting lineup can energize the benched players - Tokoto, Johnson and Meeks - going forward. While it might hurt their feelings a bit, the three ended up playing more minutes than the starters.

Starting is really that important on a team as deep as Carolina (10 players played at least 10 minutes). But eventually some players will start seeing less playing time as Coach Williams settles in on maybe eight main players.

Tar Heels 78, UCLA 56
Aggressive Heels whip No. 22 UCLA

North Carolina responded to a bad outing Wednesday with an aggressive, complete game in soundly defeating No. 22 UCLA 78-56 in the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving evening. (11/27)

The Tar Heels, who got down by seven early, came back with a disruptive defense to take a 14-point halftime lead on a Theo Pinson dunk at the buzzer.

An energetic Carolina team worked the lead up to 30 in the second half at 72-42 on a JP Tokoto driving layup with 6:23 to go before settling for the 22-point victory.

The key stat was that the Tar Heels scored 31 points on 23 Bruin turnovers.

"They got frustrated turning the ball over like we did last night," said UNC Roy Williams, adding that his team was much more aggressive than in the loss to Butler.

Marcus Paige played much better with 21 points, five assists and three steals to lead the way. "I like the way we responded," Paige said. "It was easy to see the difference from last night. We were more into it - flying around on defense."

He said the coaching staff stressed that the team can't play like that at this level.

Williams said, "We shot the ball better. we didn't turn it over and we rebounded better." The Tar Heels, who gave up 29 offensive rebounds to Butler, gave up only nine against UCLA.

Williams started three different players than usual in the game with Tokoto, Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks riding the pine at the start. Isiah Hicks made the most of the opportunity subbing for Johnson with 10 points. Tokoto came back in to score 10 and pick up four steals. Justin Jackson was the other Tar Heel in double figures as the freshman scored 12.

UNC, now 4-1, take on the winner of Florida and UAB Friday at 8 p.m. in the final game of the tournament.


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