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Off the cuff: UNC Coach Roy Williams didn't want to talk about why he benched Brice Johnson for an extended time against UCLA. "The coach was mad at him. End of story," Coach Williams said. But Johnson went on to talk about it.

Seems Johnson was mad about something as he was coming off the court and his used some bad language. To his credit, he sat Johnson at the end of the bench and left him out for a good while.

I guess it's a sign of the times but I can't imagine one of Dean Smith's players cursing in his presence. How would Coach Smith have reacted, I wonder.

Johnson said his father gets on him for using foul language. UNC's image has suffered enough lately without bad language, poor sportsmanship being added to the list of issues.

I'm not sure Johnson thinks its a big deal but something tells me, he won't be doing that again anytime soon.


Tar Heels 89, UCLA 76
Heels come from 11 down to win easily

No. 11 North Carolina trailed No. 22 UCLA by 11 points midway through the first half but then used an aggressive scrambling, trapping defense to come back to defeat the Bruins 89-76 in the CBS Classic in Brooklyn, NY. (12/19)

UCLA hit five three pointers, four by Isaac Hamilton, in the first 10 minutes to take a 26-15 lead. After a shot-clock violation by UNC and the under eight minutes TV timeout, the Tar Heels got an earful from Coach Roy Williams and a more aggressive team came out of the huddle.

"I like the way we got some turnovers in the scramble defense, something that we haven't done much this year," said Coach Williams, who added that they had practice it a lot this week after not getting much practice time in earlier due to exams and several players being sick.

After pressure defense forced a UCLA turnover, Brice Johnson, who scored a new career-high 27 points, banked one in to start the run. A Marcus Paige to Justin Jackson fastbreak layup cut the deficit to five.

The pressure not only rattled the Bruins, it forced fouls that got a couple of UCLA players in foul trouble. Johnson canned a couple of free throws to cut the Bruin lead to three at 33-30 with 3:48 left in the half.

Theo Pinson threw an alley-oop to Johnson to cut into the lead further and then he scored on a contest driving layup to tie the game at 34 with 2:15 left in the half. A Paige to Johnson fastbreak layup gave Carolina its first lead since 3-2 at 38-36.

The Tar Heels forced 11 of UCLA's 17 turnovers in the first half and scored 14 points off them to head into the lockerroom tied at 38.

Carolina went on an 8-0 run to start the second half to take a 46-38 lead following a dunk and free throw by Joel James.

The Tar Heels led by just three however with 11 minutes to go. But a 20-6 UNC run over the next six minutes broke the game open at 78-61 with just over five minutes to play. Sophomore Joel Berry, who scored a career-high 17 points, was the catalyst during the run as he scored seven including a long but open three with 5:18 to go to put the Heels up by 17.

The game was never in doubt again. Coach Williams said he was impressed with his team late in the first half and in the second half but he wasn't pleased with the effort early, especially giving up so many open threes.

Johnson, who didn't score at all until that bank shot with seven minutes left in the half, was benched by Coach Williams for several minutes for using foul language. "I was worried I wouldn't get back in there," Johnson said.

When he did, he hit 11 of 12 shots the rest of the way. He came back in energized and with a desire to make better decisions. "The last six minutes or so of the first half we did some good things," Johnson said. "We need to do that all the time and not wait."

Coach Williams said he often gets on Johnson and the now injured Kennedy Meeks to increase their energy levels.

Carolina, 9-2, hosts Appalachian State Monday night.


Joel Berry.

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