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Off the cuff: That 20-0 run was probably the most fun that Carolina fans have had this season.

The passes were crisp, the ball movement was excellent, the defense was intense and the shots were true.

Freshmen Coby White was the catalyst. Just before the run, White had make a driving scoop shot that got the home crowd really rockin'.

Then he hit an open three from the left wing and followed that up with a stepback three at the end of the shot clock to give Carolina its first lead of the game at 31-29 with 3:45 left in the opening half.

A minute and a half later, White hit a three from the right corner to give the Heels their first double-digit lead of the game at 39-29.

Sophomore Garrison Brooks, who had 11 of his 12 points in the first half, showed some emotion after he came up with an offensive rebound and went up strong to the hoop for two as he was fouled.

The run was especially fun after the Heels trailed by nine as they couldn't score and couldn't stop the Hokies from hitting threes.

Virginia Tech was ranked a slot higher in the national polls but Carolina has much superior depth. The Hokies played only seven players and two of them - guards Justin Robinson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker - got in foul trouble in the first half.

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It's impressive that Carolina has won all three of its conference road games so far. While Miami isn't a deep team and doesn't have a great record, the Hurricanes seem to always give the Heels fits, especially in Miami.

And it was that way again for most of the game. It's hard to believe that there were 18 lead changes in the game but none over the last 17 minutes.

Carolina took better care of the basketball over the second half but still turned the ball over 15 times for the game. The Heels' uptempo pace will probably lead to double-digit turnovers but history shows that they need to keep it closer to 10 than 15 or 20 to truly excel.

Both Luke Maye and Nassir Little got in foul trouble early in the game and their minutes suffered but their point production didn't. Maye scored 13 points in 28 minutes while Little scored 12 in just 13 minutes.

Little's most exciting play came when he forefully and quickly drove down the center of the lane for a two-handed dunk that put Carolina up 49-46 with 16:04 left in the game. Both Little and Maye ended the game with four fouls.

Seventh Woods, who has slumped recently, turned the ball over twice in the first half and only saw four total minutes of playing time. I suppose that's ok when starting point guard Coby White is playing well and is not in foul trouble.

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Heels sink 16 threes to run by Hokies
North Carolina's 103-82 win looked like a blowout from the beginning but it looked like it would be Virginia Tech blowing out the Tar Heels. But then the Heels, using an aggressive defense, got hot on the offensive end, draining 16 threes to come from nine down for the victory. (1/21)

The No. 10 Hokies hit six of their first seven attempts from three-point land to go up 22-13. Despite only making one of their first 12 three-point attempts, Carolina hung in there by getting more aggressive on the defensive end.

Trailing 29-25 with five minutes left in the first half, the Tar Heels went "crazy," as UNC coach Roy Williams described it, by scoring the next 20 points of the game. All but six of those points came for Carolina freshmen.

Coach Williams said it helped that two of the Hokies starters were on the bench in foul trouble and that the ball starting going in the basket for the Heels.

Coby White, who had a game-high 27 points, hit three threes during the run. Leaky Black popped in a three and Nassir Little, who finished with 23 points, completed the freshmen scoring during the run with a pair of free throws. It seemed that every rebound, steal and assist came from a freshman during that stretch.

Little gave credit to everyone but the freshmen. "It's actually a testiment to the older guys and the coaching staff for getting us ready for this moment," he said.

The Hokies went from nine up to 16 down and were all but out of it by halftime.

The Tar Heels were well in control after they extended a 45-31 halftime lead to a 63-41 margin after senior Luke Maye sank a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock with 14:21 left in the game.

The hot shooting continued for Carolina as Little hit back-to-back threes and Kenny Williams followed with another three to give the Heels their biggest lead at 27 points, 83-56.

The 16 three pointers (16 of 34) were one shy of the Carolina record and were tied for the most during the Roy Williams era. After going one of 12 from behind the line, the Tar Heels hit 14 of their next 18 three pointers.

Coach Williams said the Carolina defense got better as the Heels forced some turnovers and started getting open for threes, which they hit.

The Heels hit 53.7 percent of their shots and nearly all of their free throws (15 of 17) as well as winning the rebound battle, 35-32.

In addition to White's 27 and Little's 23, three other Heels scored in double figures as Maye had 14, Garrison Brooks had 12 and Williams added 10.

North Carolina moves to 15-4 and 5-1 in the ACC, a half game ahead of the rest of the league, while Virginia Tech, led by Kenny Blackshear's 19 points and 17 rebounds, falls to 15-3 overall and 4-2 in the conference.

The Tar Heels are off for eight days before traveling to Georgia Tech Jan. 29.

Box score


UNC freshman Nassir Little had his best game as the Tar Heel with 23 points. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

Late-game threes propel UNC to victory
North Carolina was locked in a close battle at Miami with seven minutes to go when UNC's Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams combined for four three-pointers over the next two and a half minutes to propel the Tar Heels to an 85-76 win over the Canes. (1/19)

After a first half that went back and forth and ended in a 37-37 tie, the Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run to go up 56-48 with 13:20 left in the game.

Trailing the Heels 61-52 midway through the second half, the Hurricanes went on a 10-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to a single point at 63-62 with less than seven minutes left.

That's when Johnson and Williams went to work. Johnson hit a three from the left side, right in front of the Carolina bench, and 35 seconds later followed that up with a three from the right corner. Williams followed suit with two threes in a row that led Miami to call a timeout as Williams emotional hopped around the court showing three fingers to the crowd.

"When you're emotional, you're involved," UNC coach Roy Williams said regarding the Heels' second half turnaround. "You have to have attitude and enthusiasm to be really good."

For the second time in two games, Coach Williams said he ranted and raved at the half and the Heels had better second halves.

"We were tougher mentally in the second half than in the first half," Coach Williams said adding that the Heels kept Miami from hitting threes in the second half. The Canes scored seven threes in the first half against only five two-pointers but were held to two three pointers in the second half.

Coach Williams said the two threes by Johnson, who had been cold from beyond the three-point line over he last couple of games, were "huge" for the Tar Heels. The buckets kept Miami from having the ball with a chance to take a lead. "If he doesn't make them, the crowd gets into it more and more and more," Coach Williams said.

Johnson hit five threes during the game and led five double-figure scorers with 22 points. Williams, who had seven assists, scored a season-high 16 points. Coby White had 15, Luke Maye added 13 and Nassir Little chipped in 12.

There with 18 lead changes during the game but the Heels never trailed again after a White lob to Garrison Brooks for a dunk that put Carolina ahead 47-47 with 16:40 left.

The Tar Heels shot 55 percent, including 9 for 20 from behind the three-point line, compared to 49 percent for the Hurricanes. Carolina also had a commanding 38-23 edge in rebounding.

North Carolina moves to 14-4 and 4-1 in the ACC while Miami, led by Chris Lykes' 20 points, falls to 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

The Tar Heels host No. 9 Virginia Tech Monday night.

Box score


UNC's Luke Maye muscles up for two of his 13 points. (UNC Sports Information photo.)

2018-19 UNC Season Preview

Read about any UNC basketball game since 2007-2008
Other old archived headlines:
2012-2013 UNC basketball season preview
2010-2011 season began with Late Nite with Roy

ESPN blows it - What were they thinking?
Read about UNC's 2010 football bowl win
Readers weighed in on Tar Heels' 2009-2010 troubles
Shorthanded Heels get big game from freshmen in opener
Season Review: UNC baseball had one of its best years in 2008
Carolina basketball's run ends after comeback falls short
Tar Heels run out of gas against Fresno State
Season Review: Carolina ends season where it wanted - in Omaha

Flack does it in the clutch again as Tar Heels fight on
Federowicz heroics keep UNC alive in College World Series
Carolina in the College World Series again
UNC is one win away from third straight trip to the World Series

Carolina baseball advances to host Super Regional starting Saturday
Heels defeats UNC-Wilmington 7-3 with five-run inning
UNC's wins over Miami vault Heels to No. 1 in the nation
Carolina baseball reaches 40-game win mark
Tar Heels take two of three from Florida State

Also, check out my articles for the UNC alumni Web site on Carolina's 8-4 win over LSU, the 5-3 loss to Fresno State, the 7-3 win over LSU, the 4-3 victory over Fresno State and the season-ending loss to Fresno State.

© 2018 CB3media Cary, NC

Barnes

Heel Prints reviewed each UNC game
As a student sports editor years ago, prior to the season, Clifton Barnes predicted a national championship for the Tar Heels and indeed they won. In fact he wrote his lede paragraph for the national championship game almost a year early. He regrets that he didn't keep a journal after each game. He kept a journal after each game of the 2007-2008 season and you can reach them here. At the request of readers, he has kept up his journal of each game ever since. He also has written about UNC baseball and wrote an analysis after each 2008 UNC football game.

 

Editor's Note: HeelPrints chronicled the UNC basketball, baseball and football seasons for 2008 and 2009. Since the vast majority of comments I get about the site relate to basketball and since this isn't a paying job for me, I decided to limit my coverage and analysis to basketball. Baseball and football will remain archived and if I have comments or opinions I want to make on those or any other sports at UNC, I will make them here on the front page and then archive them in the corresponding sports section. Thanks for all the positive comments I have received about the site. Should I get sponsorship in the future, I will reconsider adding baseball and football again. Ironically, my favorite sports to watch in person are baseball and football. But my first connections to UNC came from watching Dean Smith's basketball teams on TV or listening to them on the radio in the days before all the games were televised. It should come as no surprise that people pay more attention to the basketball coverage. Thanks for your interest in this site.