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Off the cuff: The win over Maryland marked the ninth straight time the Tar Heels have beaten the Terrapins. Maybe it was a good move to leave the ACC after all.

Carolina got 13 steals and the Terrapins turned the ball over nine times in the first seven minutes of the game.

The Heels looked more intense from the start, perhaps because of the presence of Marcus Paige, who had been out all season with a broken bone in his hand. The crowd was also up for the game and booed former Dukie Rasheed Sulaimon every time he touched the ball. Unfortunately for UNC fans, he drained five three points on his way to 18 points.

One TV announcer said the days of wine and cheese are long gone. That's true when it's a big game like this one. Understandably, the crowd will be less boisterious against Davidson Sunday.

UNC leads the all time series against Maryland 123-57 and 59-17 at home.


Tar Heels 89, Maryland 81
Heels welcome back Paige, win big one

Welcome back Mr. Paige. North Carolina beat No. 2 Maryland 89-81 at home as Marcus Paige returned to the lineup to pace the Tar Heels with 20 points. (12/1)

Paige, who has been out through the first six games of the season with a broken bone in his non-shooting hand, said he had nervous energy before the game. He was worried about his conditioning. "I felt better than I thought I would," said Paige, who was also concerned about a paper he has due Wednesday and exams coming up.

But not to worry about his performance on the court at least. In the first seconds, he passed to Kennedy Meeks for the game's first basket and with less than a minute gone he banged in a three from the right wing to give the Heels a quick 5-0 lead.

"We wanted to make a statement early and come out with intensity," Meeks said. "That was Carolina basketball - play hard, play smart and play together."

The Heels led 26-16 midway through the first half and worked the lead up to 13 in the first half before settling for a 41-35 halftime lead.

But Maryland hit seven of its first eight shots in the second half, including four of four from three-point land, to tie the score at 55-all. The Terps took the lead 59-58 on a four-point play when Trimble hit a three and was fouled by Nate Britt.

Carolina re-took the lead at 61-59 on a three by who else, Marcus Paige. Maryland tied it back up at 69-69 before UNC's Justin Jackson drilled a three from the left corner with 8:35 to go. The Tar Heels never trailed again although it stayed close until Joel Berry popped in a three with 4:58 left that put the Heels up by nine at 83-74.

The Tar Heels could have won by more than the final eight-point margin had they been better from the free throw line where they missed five of six over the last 1:20.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he would have felt better at the end if his squad had hit some "dad-gum free throws" at the end but he was happy. "I thought it was a great basketball game," he said. "We played well."

He was especially happy to see Paige back in the starting lineup. "It was a lot of fun having No. 5 back out there," Coach Williams said. "I'm happy as all get out."

Four Tar Heels scored in double figures led by Paige's 20. Brice Johnson finished with 16, including three dunks. Berry had 14 and Meeks added 12.

Both teams shot well as Carolina shot 53.2 percent from the floor while Maryland shot 51 percent. Maryland's Melo Trimble led all scorers with 23 as he hit four of five three pointers.

Carolina, now 6-1, play at home Sunday at 6 p.m. against Davidson.


Marcus Paige

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