Tech shoots down Heels, 86-74

ATLANTA - North Carolina came into Alexander Memorial Coliseum looking to begin the second stanza of the ACC schedule on a positive note, and for the first 20 minutes, they appeared well on their way as they owned a one-point halftime lead and held Tech guard Tony Akins to six points on 1-9 shooting. Akins, however, exploded for 22 second half points to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 86-74 victory.

Carolina, playing on the road just 38 hours after losing to Duke on Thursday night, jumped to a 15-9 lead early in the game as the Heels were shooting 3-pointers like they were going out of style. Tech battled back, taking a 24-17 lead on two free throws from Tony Akins with 7:33 remaining in the first half.

The Tar Heels responded with a Kris Lang dunk and a Brian Morrison 3-point basket and would go on to take the lead 35-34 at halftime.

The second half was a different story, as the open shots which the Heels had been knocking down in the first half quit falling and Tony Akins began to find open looks and heat up.

"I thought we were fortunate to hang in there in the first half and have a one point lead," said an exasperated Matt Doherty. "And then, in the second half, they got sharp and we were not as sharp as we have been."

The were very sharp in the second half, indeed, using a 16-5 run over the first 5:43 to take a 50-40 lead which the Tar Heels were never able to seriously threaten. While the Heels were able to cut the lead down to five on two free throws by Jason Capel with 12:33 remaining, Tech quickly responded with an 8-0 run on the strength of two Akins 3-pointers and a Luke Schenscher hook shot.

Georgia Tech shot a sizzling 58.6% in the second half, draining 9 of 15 three point baskets - including 4-5 by Akins during his 22 point explosion.

"They really made a lot of shots in the second half, and were able to execute their offense," said Will Johnson. "I really don't think we played our best in the second half."

While the Tar Heels all insisted that the quick turnaround from the Duke game on Thursday night was not a factor in the outcome of the game today, it was apparent that the Heels were very fatigued in the second half. Kris Lang, who had been very successful for Carolina in the first game with Tech, was unable to find a rhythm all day and was hampered by fouls most of the afternoon, eventually fouling out with only four points.

Brian Morrison did provide some bright spots for Carolina. Putting together his second solid effort in a row, Morrison connected on 4-8 3-pointers on his way to a 16-point day. Remarkably, he was charged with no turnovers in his 21 minutes of action. Jason Capel and Melvin Scott were the only other Tar Heels in double figures scoring 21 and 13 points, respectively.

With the loss, Carolina moves to 6-13 on the season and 2-7 in the ACC. The Jackets are now 9-13 overall and also 2-7 in the ACC. This may not be the last meeting of the year for these teams, as they are now both in serious danger of being in the dreaded play-in game of the ACC Tournament.

The never easy ACC tour reaches another tough stop for the Heels on Wednesday night as they will take on Wake Forest in Winston Salem.

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