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Off the cuff: Just think how good Carolina can be if the Heels didn't turn the ball over. If you had told me that UNC would turn the ball overe 23 times against a team the calibre of Gonzaga, I would have told you there was no way the Tar Heels would win.

But rebounding dominance, on both ends, and hot shooting outside was enough for the Heels to defeat Gonzaga by a comfortable margin.

Coach Williams said, "If we don't play really, really well, we don't win this game."

He talked about the turnovers, many of which were simply careless passes, but he seemed really happy the Heels shot the ball better. Carolina shot 55 percent for the game but the long-range buckets made it look even better.

Carolina did some good things defensively but Coach Williams pointed out that there were several instances of miscommunications when on the defensive end.

While the Heels shot the ball well, Coach Williams reminded everyone that "the great teams are the ones who guard people."

There will be another tough defensive assignment on Dec. 22 when the Heels face Kentucky. Coach Williams said this season is the most difficult schedule his teams have ever played.

It very well couild be as Carolina's schedule is rated the toughest in the country this year.

UNC coach Roy Williams said UNC-Wilmington's coach C.B. McGrath is like a son to him. McGrath, who played for Williams and was an assistant coach under Williams, just didn't have the talent to challenge the Heels.

When the Seahawks were shooting well, they were holding their own but Carolina's defensive pressure got to the visitors and there were a slew of turnovers during the 30-3 Carolina run in the second half.

Coach Williams didn't seem to want to talk about the game much afterward. At the beginning of his news conference, he dwelled on the last few seconds when the seldom-used players were desperately trying to get to 100 points with four straight misses from beyond the arc on the same possession. He blamed it on the biscuits.

Close to the end of the news conference, he wanted to talk about watching the news coverage of President George H.W. Bush's funeral for three hours. And he wanted to tell a story about his contact with Bush. Seems Bush once called Williams but he didn't take the call because he has a policy of not being interrupted with talking with one of his players.

At first he thought it was one of his "nutmeg" friends playing a joke but his secretary convinced him it was the former president. Williams called him back. Bush was trying to get tickets for his grandkids to see a UNC game but he said he respected that the coach didn't take his call the first time.

Williams said that Bush set a good example as a kinder, gentler leader.

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Carolina Football: Golden anniversary of a redeeming 50-0 victory over Duke.

Carolina Football: Excerpts from an article on the history of the Carolina-Duke rivalry.

 

Tar Heels shoot down Gonzaga, 103-90
North Carolina used hot shooting from outside and buckets inside after offensive rebounds to defeat No. 4 Gonzaga 103-90 in Chapel Hill as the Zags failed to avenge their national championship loss to the Heels. (12/15)

"We are lethal from inside, outside, mid-range, fastbreaks," said UNC senior Luke Maye, who led the way with 20 points and 16 rebounds. "We have a lot of guys that can knock down shots."

UNC coach Roy Williams, who has indicated in the past that this could be one of his best shooting teams, said he has been waiting for the Tar Heels to shoot like they should. "I tell them that they shoot the ball very well - why don't you do it in the games?" he said.

"We took some weird shots but if the ball goes in the basket it makes things look better," he added.

"We made shots and we rebounded the ball really well."

Carolina had 27 points off offensive rebounds whereas Gonzaga had none.

But it was the outside shot that dazzled the boisterous crowd. Cam Johnson led the way with a season-high 25 points by hitting six of eight three-pointers, several from way out and a couple in key moments.

In the first half, Johnson popped in a three from the right side that gave Carolina its largest lead of the game at 39-22. In the second half, after Gonzaga had cut the deficit to under double digits, Johnson hit a stop and pop three in front of the Carolina bench to push the lead back up to 12 at 81-69.

Johnson all but wrapped up the win with his longest shot of the evening to make it 92-75 as the shot clock was running out with 5:41 left.

As a team the Tar Heels were 13 of 25 from behind the three-point line.

Carolina reached the century mark for the fourth time this year when Kenny Williams slipped a pass to Maye, who scored on a lauup and was fouled. The three-point play made it 102-88 with two minutes left.

UNC point guards Coby White and Seventh Woods combined for 29 points from that position. Woods, who already had a career high in the first half with 11 points, finished with 14. White, who had several highlight plays, perhaps got the biggest ovation when he took a pass after a Maye steal and drained a spread-legged long jumper during a 14-6 UNC run late in the game.

The biggest negative of the game for the Heels was the fact that they turned the ball over 23 times, many of which were unforced errors. But Carolina helped make up for that stat by outrebounding a highly regarded rebounding team by a 42-21 mark.

North Carolina moves to 8-2 while Gonzaga drops to 9-2. The tough games keep coming as UNC plays Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic Dec. 22.

Box score


UNC's Cam Johnson led the Heels with 25 points. (UNC Sports Information photo)

Without White, Heels make UNCW blue
North Carolina, playing without injured starting point guard Coby White, played with more intensity than it did in a loss to Michigan and wore down UNC-Wilmington for a 97-69 home victory. (12/5)

Former UNC assistant coach C.B. McGrath's Seahawks team hung tough for a while, even leading midway through the first half, but a Tar Heel 17-4 lead later in the first half and a 30-3 run in the second half ended any hopes of an upset.

North Carolina, which led by nine at the half despite nine turnovers, cranked up the defense, coming up with 13 steals and forcing 25 turnovers. UNC coach Roy Williams said his team played with better effort. "Our guys were more active, sweated more," he said. "We were better defensively in the second half. Our traps helped us a little bit."

Seventh Woods, playing point in place of White, scored all seven of his points during the 30-3 clinching run. Carolina was only up by seven when Woods scored seven of the Heels' next nine points.

Cam Johnson, who scored eight during the run, led the Tar Heels with 21 points. Freshman Nassir Little scored 14 while Luke Maye and Kenny Williams each added 11.

But the Tar Heels didn't reach the 50 percent shooting mark and were only six of 24 from beyond the arc. "One of these games we're going to shoot really well. I hope it's in my lifetime," Coach Williams said, adding that he feels like this is a good shooting team but isn't showing it.

Ahead 16-6 early, the Tar Heels went cold and the Seahawks hit six of seven shots to take a 24-22 lead with under nine minutes left in the half. That's when Carolina went on the 17-4 run, highlighted by a pair of threes by Johnson and one by Andrew Platek.

The Heels only got to the foul line four times in the first half but their more aggressive play in the second half led to 24 more shots from the foul line. Unfortunately, Carolina was only 17 of 28 from the line.

With the exam break, the Tar Heels, now 7-2, won't play again until Dec. 15 at home against No. 1 Gonzaga. UNC's White, nuring a bad ankle, should be available for that one.

Box score


UNC's Cam Johnson led the Heels with 21 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.