North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina's Brice Johnson (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Associated Press

No. 11 North Carolina runs past No. 22 UCLA

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After a slow start that saw them down by 11 in the first half, No. 11 North Carolina rallied to run past No. 22 UCLA, 89-76, on Saturday at the Barclays Center.

Using another huge effort from senior big man Brice Johnson, the Tar Heels soundly outplayed UCLA on the interior, even without starting junior Kennedy Meeks. Johnson finished with 27 points and nine rebounds and Isaiah Hicks added 12 points off the bench as North Carolina had UCLA big man Thomas Welsh in foul trouble for much of the game.

Perimeter and transition defense was also problematic for UCLA as the Tar Heels were able to run at will in the second half. Joel Berry finished with 17 points on the afternoon while Marcus Paige added 10 points. North Carolina shot 52 percent from the field on the afternoon as they slowly wore down the UCLA defense.

The Bruins had 23 points from Isaac Hamilton, but the UCLA offense wasn’t strong enough to match the Tar Heels. Bryce Alford contributed 15 points, but he was only 4-for-14 from the field while Tony Parker had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Johnson continued his strong week for North Carolina. After scoring an initial career high of 25 against Tulane earlier this week, Johnson had 27 points and made 11 straight field goals against a front line that featured two McDonald’s All-Americans. With Johnson playing like that, it takes North Carolina to another level, even if they struggle to 4-for-19 3-point shooting like they did on Saturday.

North Carolina to wear black jerseys December 19 vs. UCLA

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UNC Athletic Communications
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While there have been some alterations made to North Carolina’s basketball uniforms over the years, there haven’t been too many drastic shifts. Of course there was the move to the Alexander Julian-designed argyle print during the 1990’s, and there were also those jerseys in 1999 that had the interlocking “NC” logo as opposed to “North Carolina” on the front.

Friday the program announced a major uniform change for its game against UCLA December 19 in Brooklyn. North Carolina will be wearing black jerseys for the first time in school history. Senior guard Marcus Paige showed off the new look to his teammates, and it’s safe to say that they’re happy with the new uniforms.

Traditionalists probably won’t like the uniforms, and that’s fine. Changes such as these tend to focus more on the younger crowd (especially recruits), which in some instances like the status that can come with having something that’s both new and exclusive.

Johnson leads No. 11 North Carolina past Tulane 96-72

Marcus Paige, Theo Pinson
Associated Press
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson had a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 11 North Carolina beat Tulane 96-72 on Wednesday night.

Marcus Paige added 16 points and Justin Jackson had 13. The Tar Heels (8-2) won their first game without injured big man Kennedy Meeks and bounced back from a last-second loss at Texas that knocked them out of the top 10.

Joel Berry II had 12 points and Isaiah Hicks finished with 11 for North Carolina, which never trailed, shot 50 percent and built a 43-33 rebounding advantage.

Louis Dabney scored 18 points for Tulane (6-5), which pulled to 70-55 on Malik Morgan’s jumper with just over 8 minutes left.

The Tar Heels countered with 15 straight points – a burst that started with Johnson’s jumper, included two 3-pointers from Paige and made it a 30-point game.

Rebounding was a point of emphasis in this one for the Tar Heels, who managed just four offensive boards – their fewest in 13 seasons under coach Roy Williams – in the loss to the Longhorns.

North Carolina also didn’t have Meeks, who trails only Johnson among Tar Heels in rebounding but is out at least two weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee. Meeks averaged 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds while starting the first nine games.

North Carolina gave 6-foot-11 senior Joel James his first start of the season, then turned Johnson loose on the Green Wave. He had 17 points in the first half – one more than his previous best this season – and surpassed his prior career best of 24 set in 2013 against Richmond.

Theo Pinson finished with 10 points for the Tar Heels.

TIP-INS

Tulane: The Green Wave fell to 11-50 against Top 25 opponents since 1989 and haven’t beaten the Tar Heels since 1927 – by a 20-19 score – while losing 12 straight in the series.

North Carolina: Tulane assistant Shammond Williams returned to Chapel Hill for the first time as a coach. Williams played for the Tar Heels from 1994-98 and set the school’s career record with 233 3-pointers – a mark that was broken in the Texas game by Paige. Both were honored before the game.

UP NEXT

Tulane is at Mississippi State on Saturday.

North Carolina plays UCLA on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York.

Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

AP college basketball site: http://collegebasketball.ap.org