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North Carolina wins 11th straight, nets ACC bye

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BLACKSBURG, Va. -- For the second consecutive year, Virginia Tech gave North Carolina all it could handle for 40 minutes.

But just like last year, it wasn't quite enough.

James Michael McAdoo scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half as No. 19 North Carolina survived last-place Virginia Tech 60-56 at Cassell Coliseum on Saturday.

Coach Roy Williams was proud of his players' ability to grind out a tough road win.

"It was a very workmanlike," Williams said. "Their defense bothered us."

Guard Leslie McDonald contributed 14 points as the Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned their 11th consecutive victory and secured a first-round bye in the ACC tournament. Forward J.P. Tokoto scored 12 points.

The Hokies (9-19, 2-14) were once again shorthanded, playing without guards Adam Smith and Ben Emelogu, who combine to average 21.8 points per game.

Alongside a cast of underclassmen and former walk-ons, forward Jarell Eddie put up a valiant fight. Eddie's 3-poiner with 40 seconds remaining pulled Tech to within 58-54, but North Carolina made its free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.

Coach James Johnson, fighting through tears in the post-game press conference, praised his team's refusal to quit despite mounting losses and injuries.

"I'm proud of the guys," Johnson said. "They could've quit. They could've quit a long time ago. Lose nine straight. Come to practice every day, work hard. They do what we say do. ... Just proud of the guys."

Eddie finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in his final home game.

"Felt good for him," Johnson said. "I thought did he did a good job rebounding the basketball. It felt good for him to have that kind of game on senior night."

The second half began the same as the first, with North Carolina starting quickly and looking as if it might take control of the game. And just like the first half, the Hokies had other plans.

An 8-0 Tech run culminated in guard Devin Wilson hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game at 36 with 12:16 remaining. Wilson finished with 15 points and seven assists.

The two teams went back and forth a while longer before the Tar Heels ultimately took control. Guard Marcus Paige and McAdoo scored on consecutive possessions, giving Carolina a 49-40 lead with 6:55 left.

"I thought James Michael's activity was really good," Williams said. "We found him a couple of times in the zone."

Paige, who scored a career-high 35 points in an overtime win at N.C. State on Wednesday, managed only nine points on 3-for-7 shooting.

The first half was simply a game of runs, as the Heels opened with a 7-0 burst and Tech responded with a 16-4 run.

North Carolina counterpunched with another 10-0 run to take the lead at halftime, 28-21. The Tar Heels put eight players in the scoring column before the break; McDonald led all scorers with seven points.

Wilson and center Trevor Thompson each scored four points for the Hokies by intermission.

NOTES: Saturday was Senior Day and the regular season finale in Blacksburg. Forwards Cadarian Raines and Eddie were honored, though Raines was held out for his third consecutive game due to injury. ... This season marks North Carolina's 10th 20-win season in a row under coach Roy Williams, who has won at least 20 games 24 times in his 26 seasons as a coach. It's North Carolina's 55th 20-win season. ... The Tar Heels lead the series 64-13. ... North Carolina heads home to host Notre Dame on Monday. Virginia Tech visits Maryland on Tuesday.
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