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Off the cuff: Brice Johnson almost single-handedly set the tone with 17 points and seven rebounds in the first half. He had two dunks in the first five minutes against Tulane.

Isaiah Hicks and Joel James did well also as the Heels learn to deal with the loss of Kennedy Meeks, who will probably be out with a bruised knee until January.


Tar Heels 96, Tulane 72
Short-handed Heels bounce back
North Carolina, playing without injured starting center Kennedy Meeks, handled Tulane 96-72 at home behind a career-high 25 points by Brice Johnson to bounce back from the tough loss at Texas. (12/16)

For the second time this season, the other being against Northwestern, the Tar Heels placed six players in double figures. After Johnson, Marcus Paige scored 16, Justin Jackson had 13, Joel Berry got 12, while Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson finished with 11 and 10 respectively.

When Jackson swished a three from the right wing five minutes in, the Tar Heels had its first double-digit lead at 16-6. It never got closer the rest of the game with the lead reaching 31 points late.

"We were active defensively and got some turnovers early," UNC coach Roy Williams said, as the tone was set early. The Tar Heels came up with eight steals and six blocked shots while turning the ball over only seven times.

Williams said that his team misses Meeks on both ends of the court and that the Heels need other guys to step up. He praised Johnson for his scoring but said that he needs to get better defensively and not make silly fouls.

Joel James, starting in Meeks' spot, scored only four but pulled down seven rebounds, had two blocked shots and didn't turn the ball over or commit a foul in 18 minutes. Hicks, the other big man, hit four of five shots and came up with two steals and three assists without committing a turnover.

When the Tar Heels went cold in the first half, missing nine of 11 shots mid-way through the half, Paige started a 10-2 run with a three.

Carolina led by 22 late in the first half before Tulane's Louis Dabney hit a mid-court desperation heave at the buzzer.

Tulane managed to cut the margin to 13 at 61-48 but within six minutes the Heels had the lead up to 30 at 85-55 after a 15-0 run. During that run Berry and Paige hit threes and a steal by Paige ended with a Jackson layup where he was fouled for a traditional three-point play.

Carolina, 8-2, travel to UCLA Saturday.


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