North Carolina holds off Georgia Tech 86-78

Brice Johnson
North Carolina's Brice Johnson reacts following his basket against UNC Greensboro during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. North Carolina won 96-63. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Joel Berry II scored a career-high 19 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:07 left to help No. 8 North Carolina beat Georgia Tech 86-78 on Saturday.

Brice Johnson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (13-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had fits with the Yellow Jackets (10-4, 0-1) all game. Georgia Tech led by nine points in the first half, by three at halftime and by one with 6 minutes left before the Tar Heels finally pushed ahead for good.

Berry’s 3 was part of a 9-0 burst, and he followed with a driving basket for a three-point play on the next possession.

Marcus Paige added a key pull-up basket during the Tar Heels’ finishing kick of scoring on 11 straight possessions, which ended when they ran out the clock on the final play.

Marcus Georges-Hunt matched his career high with 25 points for Georgia Tech.

Adam Smith added 20 points with six 3-pointers for the Yellow Jackets, who haven’t beaten North Carolina since January 2011 and haven’t won in Chapel Hill since a year before that.

The Tar Heels ended up with six players in double figures Saturday, helping them shoot 58 percent after halftime and 51 percent for the game.

The Yellow Jackets managed to keep the Tar Heels from getting out in transition early by converting an unusually high number of turnovers from UNC into points while getting several tough shots from Smith to build their own momentum.

Georgia Tech grabbed its biggest lead at 35-26 on Quinton Stephens’ jumper with 4:22 left in the half and took a 42-39 halftime lead behind 14 points from Smith.

The Tar Heels eventually chased down the Yellow Jackets with a strong charge out of the break. Isaiah Hicks knocked down a turnaround jumper to tie it, then Nate Britt penetrated to find Johnson for a dunk and a 59-57 lead at the 11:54 mark — UNC’s first lead since 15-13.


Georgia Tech: Charles Mitchell had 14 points. … Georgia Tech shot 42 percent. … The Yellow Jackets opened ACC play on the road for the third straight year.

UNC: Paige finished with 13 points. … Senior center Joel James matched his career high with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting. … Junior forward Kennedy Meeks missed his sixth straight game with a bone bruise on his left knee. It’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return.


Georgia Tech plays at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

UNC plays at Florida State on Monday.

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s