Team Approach Dismisses Eagles

GREENSBORO, N.C. – With Kennedy Meeks and Theo Pinson sidelined, No. 19 North Carolina received contributions up and down its lineup to run past Boston College, 81-63, in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday.

Nine different Tar Heels had scored by the time UNC built a 29-22 lead with 5:55 left before halftime.

Junior guard Marcus Paige and junior forward Brice Johnson led UNC with 17 points each. Freshman wing Justin Jackson was the only other Tar Heel to reach double figures (12), although five more players scored at least six points.

“I think it just shows that we have a deep team,” sophomore guard Nate Britt told reporters after the game. “I’ve been saying all year that our team is pretty deep and we can throw a lot of different combinations out there on the court and a lot of different lineups and still be a pretty good team. I feel like that’s what we did today.”

Meeks sat out practice on Monday and Tuesday due to illness, while Pinson was a game-time decision after experiencing soreness in his left foot earlier in the week. The freshman wing missed 10 games after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his foot at Wake Forest on Jan. 21.

“Naturally, you want to cover up for your teammate being out,” Paige said. “We wanted to do it by committee; we didn’t want one guy to think he had to carry the load and do everything himself. We did a great job being unselfish and stepping up. Everybody did their part. Play your role and everything will be fine.”

The Tar Heels assisted on 19 of their 32 field goals and committed eight turnovers.

Williams mixed and matched a variety of lineups. UNC started with a big lineup of Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Justin Jackson, Brice Johnson and Joel James and inserted a slightly smaller version early in the second half with Paige, Nate Britt, Joel Berry, Jackson Simmons and Isaiah Hicks. In between, Williams tinkered with lineups such as Paige-Berry-Tokoto-Simmons-James and the Paige-Tokoto-Hicks-Johnson quartet along with Stilman White.

The 12th-year UNC head coach said he was “looking for some guy to make a good play when he gets in there” when asked about his intent for the multitude of lineups.

White’s early entry marks the first time since December that he’s played in the first half of a game. After missing 17 games due to a foot injury, the junior guard returned to action in the final minutes of UNC’s win at Georgia Tech last week.

“He’s finally getting healthy,” Williams said. “We’ve been playing all year and Stilman can make some shots. I wanted to give him a chance in the first half and just get his feet wet in case we needed him down the line because we are thin.”

UNC shot 49.2 percent (32-of-65) while holding Boston College to 37.7 percent shooting (20-of-53). The Tar Heels shot 51.5 percent after halftime, marking the fourth game in a row they have shot better than 50 percent in the second half.

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