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Off the cuff: With Joel Berry out, the Tar Heels really need to get more from Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks down low. Carolina's offense starts down low anyway but with Berry out, you'd think those two would be coming through.

Instead, it took points from unlikely sources to allow the Heels to come back to defeat Tennessee. Nate Britt and Kenny Williams went just a combined nine of 24 but those two were the leading scorers with 11 and 12 points.

The difference in the game proved to be five steals from Britt, all of which led to points, and seven offensive rebounds from Tony Bradley, most of which led to points.

Judging by the way the Heels have played without Joel Berry, they'll need him to have a chance against Kentucky Saturday.

Tar Heels 73, Tennessee 71
Heels rally from 15 down to beat UT

A poor-shooting North Carolina team trailed for most of the game at home against Tennessee but defense came through at the end as the Heels rallied from 15 down to win 73-71. (12/11)

Carolina, playing its second game without injured leader Joel Berry, shot just 36 percent in the first half as the Volunteers built a 30-15 lead.

While the shooting improved, it was rebounding and steals that won the game for the Tar Heels.

After a Justin Jackson driving bucket gave Carolina its first lead since it was 11-10, Nate Britt picked up his fifth steal of the game with 1:40 left. A Brandon Robinson tip in with just under a minute to go gave the Tar Heels a 72-69 lead.

With a 73-71 lead, a Tony Bradley blocked shot with a second left wrapped it up.

"That's the luckiest I've ever been in 1,003 games, 29 years," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "It was a struggle. We made a couple of plays at the end."

Carolina led for only six minutes of game time but Tennessee didn't feel like it was an accomplishment. "Being close isn't good enough," Vols coach Rick Barnes said. "When we needed to get a defensive stop, we didn't."

Trailing 44-36 at the half, an aggressive Carolina squad quickly cut the margin to two after two Britt steals led to easy baskets to make it 44-42.

While the Tar Heels were able to tie it on a Stilman White jumper straightaway at 50-50 at the 13:33 mark, the Heels didn't take the lead until Jackson's bucket with 2:11 left.

Carolina had chances to take a lead earlier but free throw shooting (just 13 of 24) and continued shooting woes (39.7 percent for the game) kept them at bay.

The Heels also had to overcome a hot Robert Hubbs, who hit his first seven shots of the game, and ended with a game-high 21 points.

Second-chance points helped the Heels chipped away and stay in positive to win at the end. UNC had scored 25 on offensive rebounds while Tennessee managed just nine points on offensive rebounds.

Kenny Williams led Carolina with 12 points, while Britt added 11 and Bradley contributed 10 points to go with 10 rebounds.

A modest Bradley said he just put his hand up when he got the block to secure the victory. "A win is a win but I feel like we could have done much better than that," he said.

Tennessee falls to 4-4 while North Carolina improves to 10-1.

The Tar Heels travel to Las Vegas next Saturday to play Kentucky.

Box Score

Nate Britt against Tennessee.

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