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January 18, 2014

Heels get first ACC win

CHAPEL HILL--- North Carolina got off to a fast start in its Saturday afternoon ACC tilt with Boston College.

And despite some hot shooting at times by the visiting Eagles, the Tar Heels held on down the stretch for an 82-71 victory, UNC's first triumph so far in conference play after getting off to an 0-3 start.

Carolina used an early 16-2 run to take an early double-digit lead in the first half, only to watch the Eagles claw back to within a couple baskets and go into halftime with UNC leading, 36-32.

BC continued to keep it close through most of the second half, in fact having multiple possessions in which they could have tied or taken the lead, but they were never able to quite meet the gap against the Tar Heels, who were surprisingly out-rebounded by the Eagles but shot a healthy 52.7 percent from the floor (29 of 55).

Carolina had five players in double figures scoring in the game, led by Marcus Paige, who led all scorers with 21 points on seven-of-ten shooting from the floor (two of four three-pointers) and five-of-seven from the free throw line.

James Michael McAdoo added 17 points and six rebounds, while J.P. Tokoto filled up the stat sheet to the tune of 14 points, six assists, five rebounds, and three steals. He also made all four of his free throw attempts.

Leslie McDonald, making his first start of the season in place of freshman Nate Britt in the UNC backcourt, tallied 10 points, including a couple of three-pointers that helped ignite Tar Heel runs.

Kennedy Meeks was UNC's fifth double-digit scorer, coming off the bench to tally 10 points with six rebounds and a blocked shot.

Jackson Simmons also made his first start for UNC, but wound up leaving the game early in the first half after suffering an open cut on his forehead that required four stitches. And while he returned to the game, Jackson failed to score.

The UNC defense held Boston College to 21-of-48 shooting for the game (43.8 percent), though the Eagles actually shot better from three-point range, making 11 of 23 shots (47.8 percent), than they did in two-point field goal attempts. All five of BC's starters were in double figures, led by Olivier Hanlan's 16 points, and they got 11 points and 12 rebounds from Ryan Anderson.

The two teams traded baskets for most of the first five minutes before the Tar Heels got going, as McAdoo connected on a field goal and McDonald buried a three-pointer, making the score 15-9 in favor of Carolina. From there Paige connected on a three-pointer after UNC grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds, and it appeared the rout was on.

BC trailed by as much as 11 before chipping away at the UNC advantage, going on an 8-0 run to pull within 24-22 at the 8:28 mark after a three-pointer by Eddie Odio.

The first ten minutes of the second half was a back-and-forth slugfest, with UNC hanging onto the lead but failing to pull it back out to double digits.

A Lonnie Jackson three-ball by the Eagles at the 10:45 mark pulled Boston College within a single point (54-53), and the two teams stayed within a basket for the next three minutes before the Tar Heels took control.

Leading 61-57 around the eight-minute mark of the second half, UNC got a basket from Meeks, and then a pair of free throws from the Charlotte rookie. Paige added a jumper and a free throw, and by the six-minute mark the Tar Heel lead was back out to nine points at 68-59.

McDonald nailed a pair of key shots, including his second three-pointer, down the stretch to keep BC at bay, and the Tar Heels finished off the game at the free throw line with seven free throws made by four different players, and aided by a late technical foul called on Eagles lead coach Steve Donahue.

UNC returns to action Monday night in Charlottesville, as they'll taking on the improving Virginia Cavaliers inside John Paul Jones Arena as part of ESPN's 'Big Monday' regular season coverage.


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