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Off the cuff: The game against Northern Iowa looked like two different games. The Tar Heels' offense was stuck in the mud much of the first half and seemed on pace to be the lowest scoring game of the year.

In the second half, after shooting just over 40 percent in the first half, shot 62 percent in the second half. Coach Williams rightly says the defense spured the offense but the Tar Heels also just flat out shot better and were more in rhythm.

Carolina managed just one of eight three-pointers in the first half but sank six of 11 in the second half.

Seventh Woods better hope Coach Williams doesn't review the end of the game. The coach was already going over to shake Northern Iowa coach's hand when Seventh Woods stole the ball from Rafael de Souza, who seemed to be ready to congratulate Woods while running out the clock. Woods went in for a dunk at the buzzer.

Tar Heels 85, Northern Iowa 42
Heels' defense sparks big 2nd half run

Locked in a tight battle in the first half, North Carolina outscored Northern Iowa 52-16 in the second half to exact revenge on the Panthers 85-42. (12/21)

The Tar Heels, who were ranked No. 1 last year when they fell at Northern Iowa, muddled through the first half but managed a 33-26 lead.

A pair of threes early in the second half - one by Justin Jackson and one by Joel Berry - opened it up a bit. But the steadying influence was Kennedy Meeks, who scored 18 points down low in the paint.

"He was the difference in the game," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "In the second half he was into it."

Williams said the key was his team's defense in the second half. "My Christmas wish at halftime was for us to play better defense and I think we did," he said. "But they missed some shots they normally hit."

He said good defense led to some fast breaks. During one stretch, the Panthers went seven minutes without scoring. Meanwhile the Tar Heels were hitting threes - six of 11 in the second half - and were getting inside for dunks.

The crowd was probably loudest when Berry drained a three from the right sideline, just in front of the Carolina bench, following a nice cross-court pass from Meeks, and when Isaiah Hicks followed that basket up with a powerful dunk that made it 62-39 with six minutes left.

Over the last few minutes of the game, Carolina hit 10 of 11 shots and scored on 15 of its last 16 possessions of the game.

Four Tar Heels scored in double figures. After Meeks' 18 points, Jackson tallied 12 while Berry and Hicks added 11 each.

The Tar Heels, 11-2, host Monmouth Dec. 28 in their last non-conference game.

Box Score

Kennedy Meeks against Northern Iowa.

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