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Off the cuff: UNC coach Roy Williams said that injured start guard Marcus Paige could have played if it were an NCAA game but that the Heels are being cautious.

Speculation is that he will be back in early December but Coach Williams joked that he might just keep him out until February.

Carolina's defensive got the Heels some easy baskets in the second half against Northwestern, which was held to 37 percent shooting in the second half.


Tar Heels 80, Northwestern 69
Heels buckle down for rebound win

North Carolina, which fell from No. 1 in the country to No. 9 after losing to Northern Iowa, rebounded with a solid but not easy 80-69 win over Northwestern in the Hall of Fame Classic. (11/23)

UNC's Justin Jackson, who finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds, got the first double-double of his career and was aggressive, especially on the offensive end where he got six rebounds.

He tallied four during a 14-1 run at the end of the first half that erased a six-point Wildcat lead and put Carolina up 43-36 at the half, a lead the Heels would never relinquish.

During the run, the Tar Heels got a three by Theo Pinson that put the team up for good at 36-35 with 2:38 left in the first half. The nicest play of the run came when Joel Berry found Jackson slicing down the baseline for a bucket.

"Jackson's cutting down the baseline and his offensive rebounding was the difference," said Northwestern coach Chris Collins, the former Dukie.

But the Tar Heels also had six players in double figures for the first time this season. After Jackson, Berry and Kennedy Meeks tallied 12 each and Pinson, Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks each added 10.

Carolina led by 10 after the first 10 minutes but then suffered a barrage of three-point baskets by Northwestern, who got three in a row and four over a four-minute span.

The Wildcats worked the lead to six before that 14-1 run that changed the tenor of the game.

An 8-0 run midway through the second half put Carolina up for 20 at 71-51. During that run, Jackson slashed down the baseline for an up and under then followed it with a runner in the lane.

Northwestern, who played a 2-3 zone defense the entire game, managed to cut the lead to nine with a 15-4 run of its own. But Berry hit a three shaded to the right at the 2:08 mark to stop the bleeding and give the Heels a 12-point cushion before settling for the 11-point victory.

Jackson had eight rebounds on the season but 13 in this one game. "Every game I'm supposed to get to the board and I haven't always done as well as I should," Jackson said. "Tonight it got me some touches and I got some easy jumpers and layups."

Jackson started the season slow before scoring a career-high 25 points against Northern Iowa and a career-high 13 rebounds against Northwestern. "I was frustrated in how I was playing but my teammates and coaches had confidence in me and I had confidence in myself. I just got off to a slow start."

Carolina hit 17 of 19 from the free throw line and outrebounded Northwestern 39-26. The Tar Heels committed only nine turnovers, four by Pinson, who counted that with a game-high eight assists.

The Tar Heels, now 4-1, play Kansas State in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City Tuesday at 10 p.m.


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