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North Carolina AD releases statement in support of Roy Williams

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North Carolina Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham issued another statement on Tuesday regarding the accusations made by former Tar Heel guard Rashad McCants.

On Friday, an interview that McCants gave to Outside The Lines was published. In that interview, McCants claimed that Roy Williams knew about academic impropriety at North Carolina. McCants claimed that it was Williams that setup no-show classes in the Afro-American Studies department that allowed McCants to remain eligible to play basketball.

Williams responded to the claims in a 35-minute interview with Jay Bilas of ESPN.com and, on Friday, Cunningham made a joint statement with Williams denying the accusations.

On Tuesday, Cunningham reiterated that stance.

“Since Friday, there have been conversations inside and outside the Carolina Community about Roy Williams and Carolina Basketball,” Cunningham said. “I am proud to see the outpouring of support from former players and the basketball community at large, which reinforces the respect, integrity and care of student-athletes that Coach Williams ahas shown throughout his career. Current and former players from across the country have told me that Coach Williams and his staff have always place a priority on self-accountability inside the classroom. I have witness this myself.”

“Everyone here at Carolina wants to know all we can about past academic and athletic anomalies. But speculation and innuendo should not replace the independent investigation currently being conducted by former federal prosecutor Kenneth Wainstein. We must allow his work to be complete and thorough.”

Keep in mind while you read these denials: the Raleigh News & Observer, reporting facts dug up by whistleblower Mary Willingham, has found that “five members of [the 2005 national title-winning]¬†team, including at least four key players, accounted for a combined 39 enrollments in classes that have been identified as confirmed or suspected lecture classes that never met”:

Raleigh News & Observer

North Carolina can deny as much as they want, but the data is damning.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)