Jeff Becker/Special to Inside Carolina

UNI Spoils Marcus Paige's Homecoming

An injured Marcus Paige watched his homecoming game from the sidelines as Northern Iowa upset his Tar Heels.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa - A North Carolina tradition continued here Saturday afternoon.

The Tar Heels have made it a point to schedule road games close to the homes of their senior players.

Coach Roy Williams's tribute to Marcus Paige was a game at Northern Iowa, a school about 60 miles away from Linn-Mar High School, his alma mater in Marion, Iowa.

The storyline extended to the fact that Paige would be going up against former teammates from high school and AAU days in UNI's Matt Bohannon and Wes Washpun.

Paige's broken right hand, suffered earlier this month, kept him on the sidelines, but his former teammates not only played, they shined.

Washpun, Paige's AAU teammate, had 21 points and eight assists while Bohannon, who played three seasons with Paige at Linn-Mar, had 18 as the Panthers upset No. 1 North Carolina, 71-67, at the McLeod Center.

"Needless to say, I wish Marcus would have been able to play because that is why we came," Williams said. "If you had told me he was going to break his hand and not be able to play, I wouldn't have scheduled the game." Washpun and Bohannon had a lot to do with Williams's team leaving with a loss. The fifth-year seniors fueled a second-half charge that saw UNI come back from a 16-point deficit in the final 17 minutes to pull the upset.

The loss to UNI was first and foremost on Paige's mind, not the performance of his former teammates.

"I was definitely not admiring what they were doing on the floor," Paige said. "I was really focused on what we needed to try and do to counter them.

"I'm sure a lot of my people were able to have fun with what they did today," he added. "I would have loved to have matched up against them because I had played with both of them for so long and never had the chance to play against them."

Paige warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd prior to the tip, receiving a warm reception.

"Coach Williams and (UNI) Coach (Ben) Jacobson talked about it before the game," Paige said. "They both talked about it and they thought it was a great idea. It meant a lot to my family."

"It was cool, the fact that Coach does this does this for seniors who don't get to play in their area," Paige added about returning to his home state. "There aren't any ACC teams in Iowa so the fact he scheduled this was great being able to see all those who have been so supportive of me." 

Inside Carolina Top Stories