GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels have surged to four wins in as many outings, and will try for a fifth as they travel to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Atlantic Coast Conference play at Purcell Pavilion.
North Carolina has won four in a row and five of its last six games. The Tar Heels have jumped up to a 5-4 conference record with the string of victories, which is four games behind Syracuse for the ACC lead. UNC defeated Maryland, 75-63, in its last contest.
Notre Dame has struggled in the ACC this season to a 3-7 conference record. The Irish have lost seven of their last nine games, including a 61-55 defeat at the hands of Syracuse, the nation's top team, Monday.
UNC holds the all-time series lead over the Irish, 16-4. The two teams will meet again in the final weekend of the regular season on March 3 in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina stormed ahead of Maryland early in the first half and took a 39-27 lead into the intermission. The Tar Heels wouldn't look back, as they cruised to victory. Marcus Paige led the Heels with 25 points in the contest, dishing out a team-high seven assists. Brice Johnson netted 19 off the bench, and James Michael McAdoo chipped in 12 with eight rebounds. North Carolina shot 49 percent from the floor in the game.
Paige built on his team-leading scoring average in the win over Maryland. Paige tops the Tar Heels with 17.1 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting from the floor, with a team-best 99 assists on the year. McAdoo is second in scoring with a 14.8 ppg average, followed by Leslie McDonald at 11.1 ppg. McAdoo is the team leader in rebounding at 6.8 rpg.
Notre Dame tried to take advantage of a Syracuse team coming off a thrilling overtime win against Duke, and nearly made the Orange pay. The Irish cut C.J. Fair out of the equation offensively, but didn't take into account Trevor Cooney, who had 33 points. Garrick Sherman led the Irish with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Steve Vasturia contributed 13 and Pat Connaughton added 11. Syracuse held a 31-18 halftime advantage, but the Irish made somewhat of a comeback run in the second stanza only to be cut short.
Sherman is the team's active leader in scoring this season with 14.5 ppg, followed closely by Eric Atkins with 14 ppg, Sherman dominates the glass with a team-best 8 rpg average, and shoots an impressive 52.1 percent from the floor. Atkins leads the team with 111 assists on the year and a team-high 31 steals. Connaughton nets 13.3 ppg and chips in 7.4 rpg.
The Tar Heels are headed in the right direction in the ACC, while Notre Dame is going the opposite way. Sherman is a solid player underneath, but the Irish don't have enough to contain strong guard play from Paige and McDonald.
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