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Tar Heels pull away in OT

The SportsXchange

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina's Marcus Paige was intent on atoning for a late-game mistake.

The freshman guard took care of that in overtime.

Paige scored six consecutive points in the extra session as North Carolina defeated Virginia Tech 72-60 in Saturday afternoon's Atlantic Coast Conference game at the Smith Center.

Paige said he was bothered by a turnover in the final minute of regulation that cost the Tar Heels a chance at breaking a tie.

"I wanted to come out and try to make up for it in overtime," he said.

Paige, who drained three first-half 3-point shots, scored eight of his career-high 19 points in overtime. He scored in double figures for the first time in six games after failing to score more than eight points in any of his previous five games.

"I think he's going to be a really good shooter," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He just hasn't done it yet. I think he showed a little bit more (this game)."

James Michael McAdoo scored 22 points for the Tar Heels (15-6, 5-3 ACC).

Paige made the front end of a 1-and-1 to push the Tar Heels to a 65-58 lead.

Erick Green then scored for the Hokies, ending a field-goal drought of more than 19 minutes for the nation's leading scorer.

Green's 16 points led Virginia Tech (11-10, 2-6), which lost its fourth game in a row for the second time this season. Green entered the game averaging 25.5 points per game.

"I wanted him to be a little bit more aggressive," Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said. "But they did a really good job switching guys on him."

Green had 14 points through regulation. He had scored at least 21 points in all except one previous game this season.

"All those guys worked very hard against Erick Green," Williams said. "Everybody had to be aware of him."

Virginia Tech's Jarell Eddie added 15 points. Virginia Tech's Cadarian Raines scored 12 points before fouling out in overtime.

Reggie Bullock's basket off a rebound with 1:26 remaining in regulation sent North Carolina to a 55-53 lead. Virginia Tech's Joey van Zegeren, who entered the game making 46.5 percent of his free throws, made two foul shots with 45.8 seconds left after he was fouled going for an offensive rebound on what would have been the Hokies' fourth possession in a row without scoring.

The Tar Heels turned it over on Paige's errant pass, giving the Hokies a chance for the final shot. Green was off the mark on a fall-away jumper as Virginia Tech misfired on its last five attempts from the field in the second half.

"A tough loss for this team," Johnson said. "We executed the game plan, put ourselves in position to win. We put ourselves in great position and did not finish the game."

Paige said he was encouraged when his shots fell early.

"That always helps your confidence a little bit," Paige said. "If I get an open shot, I'm going to take it."

He made 4 of 10 attempts from 3-point range, while the rest of the Tar Heels combined to go 1-for-14 on 3-pointers.

"Marcus, it's all about confidence," Bullock said. "His confidence is going to keep growing."

The Tar Heels didn't take a lead until Brice Johnson's tip-in with 9:29 left gave them a 46-45 edge, though it didn't last long.

Earlier, Bullock's 3-pointer tied the game 42-42 with 13:13 left, pulling the Tar Heels even for the first time since Virginia Tech's game-opening 12-0 run.

Virginia Tech also held a 12-point, first-half lead Wednesday night in an eventual home loss to No. 14 Miami.

Virginia Tech scored the final five points of the first half, with Eddie hitting a 3 at the end, for a 32-26 lead. North Carolina trailed at halftime at home for the first time this season.

The Hokies built an eight-point second-half gap.

Virginia Tech scored the game's first 12 points, with Green's points in the stretch on a pair of jumpers (a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer) to take the score from 7-0 to 12-0.

North Carolina used a timeout with 16:11 on the first-half clock.

The Tar Heels were within 16-15 with 8 1/2 minutes to play in the opening half. They never led in the first half despite closing within 27-26 and having a potential go-ahead possession.

Notes: North Carolina played without swingman P.J. Hairston, who scored 14 points in less than 13 first-half minutes Tuesday night at Boston College before suffering a concussion and leaving the court on a stretcher. ... Guard Leslie McDonald returned to the North Carolina rotation after missing six games, the first three because of a knee injury and then three more based on a team-related suspension. ... Virginia Tech has led at halftime in back-to-back games, the first time that has happened since November. ... North Carolina's Desmond Hubert, who was scoreless through regulation, scored on the first possession of overtime on a putback for his only points. ... It was the lone regular-season meeting between the teams.
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