Jan. 29, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Glen Rice Jr. just never looked like himself Sunday.
Georgia Tech’s scoring leader struggled to just four points in the 93-81 loss at No. 7 North Carolina, robbing the Yellow Jackets of a reliable scorer who has turned in big performances against highly ranked Duke and against North Carolina State in the team’s only win of the past month.
Rice said he was bothered by the injury to his right big toe suffered during a recent practice.
“I don’t know what happened,” Rice said. “I guess my big toe was just bothering me today. But, I mean, no excuses. I should have come out there and played better. It just wasn’t a good game today.”
Rice had scored 28 points in the loss to the Blue Devils and 22 points in the win days later at N.C. State on Jan. 11. But he finished 2-for-7 from the field and 0-for-2 from 3-point range against the Tar Heels.
He came in averaging about 14 points, but played just 22 minutes in one of his shortest stints on the court all year.
For North Carolina, Harrison Barnes scored 23 points and the Tar Heels hit 10 3-pointers to end a four-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets.
Tyler Zeller added 17 points for the Tar Heels (18-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 12 of 13 games and extended their school-record home winning streak to 31 games. North Carolina shot 54 percent from the field, led by 20 points at halftime and by 24 in the second half of an easy win that moved the Tar Heels into a tie with Duke and Florida State atop the ACC standings.
John Henson had 13 points and Reggie Bullock added 11 for the Tar Heels, while Kendall Marshall had 12 assists.
Mfon Udofia scored 16 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (8-13, 1-6), who trailed by double figures the entire second half.
The Yellow Jackets have lost five straight games and nine of 10 in the past five weeks.
In an odd stat, North Carolina hadn’t beaten Georgia Tech in nearly three years. The Tar Heels lost three times to Georgia Tech in 2009-10, including the first round of the ACC tournament. Last season, the Yellow Jackets beat the Tar Heels by 20 points in Atlanta, though that humbling outcome marked a turning point in UNC’s season as the Tar Heels went on to win the ACC regular-season title and get within a game of the Final Four.
The four-game losing streak was the longest for UNC in the 84-year history of the series.
On Sunday, Georgia Tech had no way to slow North Carolina’s offense, which knocked down open shots and repeatedly got out in transition in what often looked like a tune up game more than a league contest. North Carolina shot 60 percent in the opening half, while its 93 points and 10 3s were the most allowed by Georgia Tech all season.
Coach Roy Williams has said several times that he believed he had a good shooting team, though the Tar Heels were hitting just 25 percent from 3-point range in ACC games. North Carolina hadn’t made more than five 3s in a league game this season, including a 2-for-16 performance against Miami and a 4-for-21 showing in the 33-point loss at Florida State. But the Tar Heels knocked down plenty of outside looks Sunday, hitting five 3s in the first 10 minutes and finishing 8 for 12 in the first half.
Marshall had six assists on 3s in that half, including two crosscourt passes to set up 3s by Bullock and P.J. Hairston.
The UNC players wore pink-trimmed shoes as part of the weekend’s Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend, though Barnes and Zeller changed out of theirs by the start of the second half.