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College Hoops: North Carolina 7

By Bret Strelow

Salisbury Post

CHAPEL HILL — Wes Miller looked for an empty chair on North Carolina’s bench following a first-half timeout, but every seat was filled.

Marcus Ginyard saw Miller standing and realized the Tar Heels had only four players on the floor. Ginyard rose to his feet and rushed back onto the court.

“Usually there’s the perfect amount of seats,” guard Bobby Frasor said, “and everybody was like, ‘Slide down, slide down.’ We couldn’t slide down any more.”

North Carolina didn’t look particularly sharp against Kentucky on Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center, but the seventh-ranked Tar Heels won 75-63.

UNC (6-1) earned an impressive victory against Ohio State on Wednesday but shot 37.3 percent against the Wildcats, who finished with a 42-36 rebounding advantage.

“I was concerned about a letdown,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I don’t think we were emotionally into the game nearly as much as we were Wednesday night. The crowd was definitely not as emotionally into the game as they were Wednesday night.

“It’s only the second time in my entire career I’ve ever stood up and waved to the crowd to try and wake them up.”

A noon start, combined with a slow-paced game, contributed to the stale atmosphere.

The Tar Heels forced 22 turnovers and overcame a

21-point effort from Kentucky center Randolph Morris, whose only miss in 11 field-goal attempts came in the final minute. UNC sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, who scored six points against Kentucky last season, had seven on 2-for-10 shooting.

“First half, when we started walking the ball up, we started playing down to their pace,” said Frasor, who hurt his tailbone while taking a second-half charge. “We tried to speed up the tempo a little bit in the second half, but still they were a big, strong, physical team that we had to match.”

Wayne Ellington led the Tar Heels with 17 points, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Reyshawn Terry gave them their first double-digit lead with 13:25 left.

Terry, who grabbed nine rebounds and matched Brandan Wright’s total of 16 points, entered the game with an 8.3 scoring average.

He opened the season with 18 points against Sacred Heart but didn’t score more than 10 in any of the Tar Heels’ next five contests.

“It’s just a struggle right now,” said Terry, who had a combined 13 points in games against Winthrop, Gonzaga and Ohio State. “With the guys that we have, we have a lot of guys that can get it done. I just have to find my fit. Being that senior leader, making some sacrifices for the team, I really don’t have a problem with doing that.”

The lack of sacrifice shown during a sequence early in the second half angered Williams, who directed five players to the scorers table.

UNC had several chances to scoop up a loose ball, but nobody went to the floor. Efforts to secure it with a dribble were unsuccessful, and Kentucky (4-3) ended up with possession.

“We’re tip-toeing through freaking tulips trying to get the ball,” Williams said.

Terry’s clutch shots came less than a minute after Williams put his starters back in the game. A basket from Wright gave the Tar Heels a 49-37 lead, and Terry hit another 3-pointer on their next trip.

UNC players crashed to the floor at every opportunity in the final 17 minutes, and Ginyard received an encouraging slap on the hand from Williams after a belly-flop into the bench area.

Exiting the court wasn’t a problem for Ginyard, who accepted blame for the first-half confusion.

“Everybody on the bench kept saying ‘four,’ ” Ginyard said, “but nobody got up and said there were only four guys on the floor.”

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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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