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Off the cuff: There were so many key moments in the game against Georgia Tech, and so many moments that could have been key. For instance, the bad call on Brice Johnson near the end of the half when he cleanly blocked a shot but was called for a foul.

As Coach Williams said, it's a difficult game to call but with TV coverage being so good these days, viewers saw that was not a foul. The Heels had let some calls that could have gone either way get under their skin but after that call, things could have really turned south. Luckily it was almost halftime and the players could calm down and listen to Coach Williams refocus on what they, themselves, had done wrong in the first half.

It was the second time the Heels trailed at the half - the other being Kansas State, a game in which Carolina rallied from behind late. The Jackets held the lead for a while in the second half but you could see they were bothered by the Carolina trapping defense and they were having to hit tougher shots.

Eventually, the shots stopped falling for Georgia Tech and Carolina penetrated the lane well to draw fouls or score inside. Carolina continues to do well from the foul line as the Heels hit 24 of 29 from the charity stripe.


Tar Heels 86, Ga. Tech 78
UNC rallies late to beat GT going away

Trailing 67-65 late, North Carolina scored on 11 straight possessions, including a 9-0 run, to defeat Georgia Tech 86-78 in Chapel Hill. (1/2)

The Tar Heels, who led by as many as five in the first half, trailed most of the first half and were behind at halftime, 42-39, for just the second time this season.

It took eight minutes into the second half before Carolina could erase the deficit to lead for the first time since it was 15-13 with a 59-57 edge after Brice Johnson dunked with 11:55 to cap a 6-0 run.

But the Yellow Jackets took a 67-65 lead with 6:19 left on a pair of free throws by Marcus Georges-Hunt, who led all scorers with 25 points.

Over the next two and a half minutes, the Heels went on that 9-0 run led by Joel Berry who banged in an open three - just the Tar Heels second of the game - and then drove to the hoop for a layup and foul for an old-fashioned three-point play. Justin Jackson hit a floater with 3:53 left to complete the run and give UNC a 74-67 lead.

A three by GT's Adam Smith, who hit four of five threes in the first half, cut the margin to four at 74-70 but after a Marcus Paige nine-footer on the run, Smith missed an open three and the Jackets never got close again.

The Tar Heels wrapped it up with 10 free throws down the stretch.

"It was an extremely hard fought game," said UNC coach Roy Williams, adding that it was a typical ACC contest. "Joel Berry made a couple of huge, huge plays and he hadn't played well up to that point."

In taking and extending the lead, the Tar Heels finally got some defensive stops, Coach Williams said.

The first half was highlighted by Joel James offensive play (he had a career-tying 11 points) and Smith's threes but it was controversial officiating that upset the Tar Heel players. "It was frustrating. Our guys started talking and thinking about it," Coach Williams said about the officiating. He told his players at the half that the officials didn't make as many mistakes as the UNC players did and that they just needed to worry about what they could control.

"It was a very physical game and the refs called it tight," UNC's Brice Johnson said. "We just had to grind it out to get the win."

The Tar Heels, who shot 58 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game, placed six players in double figures led by Berry's career-high 19, 10 of which came in the last six minutes. Johnson finished with 15, Paige with 13, Isaiah Hicks with 12, James with 11 and Jackson with 10.

Carolina outscored the Jackets 46-28 in the paint and outrebounded the visitors 39-29.

Georgia Tech falls to 10-4 and 0-1 in the ACC while North Carolina improves to 13-2 and 2-0 in the ACC.

The Tar Heels travel to Florida State Monday night.


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