Tar Heels say sayonara to Terps at Dean Dome with win
Maryland was making its final appearance in the Smith Center as a member of the ACC, and North Carolina provided plenty of parting shots — mostly courtesy of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson.
Paige scored 16 of his 25 points in the final ten minutes — including the team’s first four-point play in seven years — and and Johnson (19 points) made all eight of his shots as the Tar Heels defeated the Terrapins 75-63 Tuesday night.
Maryland fell behind 19-3 early and wasn’t able to catch up, never getting closer than six in the second half. While the Terrapins (13-10, 5-5) were serenaded by chants of “A-C-C” in the final minutes, UNC (15-7, 5-4) was getting ready to celebrate its first four-game winning streak of the season, which put the Tar Heels above .500 in the conference for the first time this season heading into Saturday’s game at Notre Dame (noon, WRAL).
Paige and Johnson combined for 27 of UNC’s final 29 points.
“I guess my mentality does change a little bit as the game goes on,” Paige said. “I have no problem trying to step up and be that guy.”
Paige played the entire second half and finished with his highest scoring total since he had 32 against Louisville on Nov. 24, while Johnson had his highest total since scoring 24 against Richmond on Nov. 23.
“I thought we competed. I thought we did a lot of things well. Paige was just too good,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “He just made shot after shot whenever we’d get it close. He hadn’t been playing that way for them lately, and he stepped up and played well.”
Paige and Johnson both set career highs for scoring in an ACC game. The sophomores had been averaging a combined 29.8 points after the non-conference schedule, but those averages dropped to 21.0 during league play.
Johnson said he didn’t do anything differently offensively Tuesday, though Williams said the sophomore forward was coming off the best practice “of his entire life.”
“When he gets the ball low in the paint, he’s such an efficient scorer,” Paige said. “He’s been missing some baby hooks and some stuff around the rim, so you knew he was due to kind of break out and start making the shots that he usually makes. He’s instant offense for us at times.”
Johnson (seven rebounds), junior James Michael McAdoo (12 points, eight rebounds) and sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto (nine rebounds, six assists, four steals) also helped UNC beat Maryland 40-32 on the boards and keep the Terrapins from getting an offensive rebound in the second half.
McAdoo got off to another quick start, recording nine points, a block, a steal, and a charge taken in the first five minutes. Leslie McDonald also made his first two 3-point shots on his 23rd birthday to give the Tar Heels a 19-3 lead five minutes in.
“The game was really a lot of fun the first four or five minutes,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “And after that it got to be a lot like work.”
Maryland got back into the game with a 16-3 run, as the Tar Heels committed three straight turnovers after going to their bench and went 4:13 without a field goal until Johnson hit a turnaround jumper.
After closing to 26-23, it was the Terrapins’ turn to go cold. Maryland went the final 6:25 of the first half without a field goal as UNC closed on an 11-2 run to lead 39-27 at the break.
The Terrapins got within seven points twice midway through the second half, and each time Paige answered with a 3-pointer — including a four-point play that was the first for UNC since Ty Lawson posted one in 2007.
Maryland finally got within 58-52 and had the ball with eight minutes left, but guard Dez Wells committed one of his seven turnovers and Paige converted a reverse lay-up on the other end. Desmond Hubert then blocked Josh Layman, and Johnson scored on a putback to put the Tar Heels up 10.
The lead stayed between eight and 12 the rest of the game as Williams improved to 7-0 against Turgeon, Maryland’s third-year coach who was an assistant under Williams at Kansas.
“They kept coming at us and we kept answering,” Williams said. “I thought that was a real key to the game because (we) never got frustrated and we kept answering their runs.”
|NORTH CAROLINA 75, MARYLAND 63|
Percentages: FG .393, FT .650.
3-Point Goals: 6-23, .261 (Allen 3-10, Smotrycz 2-6, Layman 1-2, Wells 0-1, Faust 0-4).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Mitchell 3, Smotrycz, Peters, Graham, Faust).
Turnovers: 16 (Wells 7, Peters 3, Layman 2, Allen, Smotrycz, Graham, Mitchell).
Steals: 5 (Smotrycz, Faust, Cleare, Layman, Allen).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .490, FT .514.
3-Point Goals: 6-15, .400 (Paige 4-7, McDonald 2-5, Hicks 0-1, Tokoto 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Hubert, Meeks, Tokoto, Johnson).
Turnovers: 14 (Paige 5, Meeks 3, Tokoto 3, McAdoo 2, James).
Steals: 10 (Tokoto 4, Paige 3, Simmons, Johnson, McAdoo).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Karl Hess, Michael Stephens, Mike Stuart.