No. 5 North Carolina routs No. 11 Miami for ACC lead
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Two days after a crushing loss to rival Duke, North Carolina coach Roy Williams gathered his players, showed them just two plays on film and told them to move on no matter how much it hurt.
”That’s behind us now,” Williams said he told them.
The fifth-ranked Tar Heels responded with a stunningly dominating performance in a critical Atlantic Coast Conference game, romping to a 96-71 victory over No. 11 Miami on Saturday.
In a matchup of teams tied for the league lead, North Carolina (22-5, 11-3) shot 54 percent and shut down Miami at every turn to lead by as many as 38 points. The Tar Heels had six players score in double figures, dominated the glass and flirted with their second 100-point performance this season.
”This one had a little more oomph to it because we did lose to Duke and it hurt a lot,” said senior Brice Johnson, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds. ”We just had to put that behind us and be able to move on.”
The Tar Heels were coming off Wednesday’s 74-73 loss to the Blue Devils, a game in which they led nearly all night but lost control in the final 3 minutes. And that allowed the Hurricanes (21-5, 10-4) to climb into a first-place tie with their fifth straight win.
This also started a run of four straight against ranked league opponents for Miami, with coach Jim Larranaga saying it was a challenging stretch of games ”but ones you look forward to.”
The first turned into a dud, thanks to the Tar Heels turning an overwhelming performance they haven’t shown consistently this season – the kind that reminded why they were picked the nation’s top-ranked team in the preseason.
”Well, that’s what happens when one team plays really well and the other doesn’t play well at all,” Larranaga said. ”They had our number from start to finish. We didn’t do anything we planned on doing.”
The Tar Heels led 42-33 at halftime then opened with a 10-0 burst to turn this into a blowout. At one point, the Tar Heels hit seven straight shots and made 14 of 19 to open the second half, while the Hurricanes managed five shot attempts and five turnovers in the first 8 minutes.
UNC made 9 of 20 3-point attempts after going 1 for 13 against the Blue Devils. Heck, Johnson even hit a roughly 90-foot shot from his own charge circle, only it came well after the halftime horn.
”I feel like Carolina made every shot,” Miami’s Sheldon McClellan said. ”We didn’t do a good job guarding those guys.”
Angel Rodriguez and Ivan Cruz Uceda each scored 12 points to lead Miami.
Miami: The Hurricanes made 9 of their last 11 shots with the outcome long decided to reach 42-percent shooting for the game. … Miami made 15 of 26 free throws and was outrebounded 46-29. … The Hurricanes lost Ja’Quan Newton in the second half to what Larranaga said appeared to be a bone bruise to his left shin.
UNC: Justin Jackson had 15 points and a career-high eight of UNC’s 21 assists. … Isaiah Hicks started over Kennedy Meeks and scored 12 points. … Freshman reserve Kenny Williams III had a scary first-half fall and landed on the back of his neck, but was back on the bench for the second half.
The 25-point margin of victory was North Carolina’s largest against an AP Top 25 team since beating No. 13 Michigan State 98-63 in Detroit in December 2008.
Miami had nine assists on 25 baskets, with only three in the first half.
”I think mentally, we were kind of in individual mode,” Larranaga said. ”We didn’t look like a team.”
Miami hosts No. 7 Virginia on Monday.
UNC visits North Carolina State on Wednesday.