Men's Basketball

 
No. 14 Tar Heels Too Much For Minutemen

Massachusetts' Jonathan DePina, left, and North Carolina's Ronald Curry, right, fight for control of a loose ball during the first half of their Tournament of Champions game.

Massachusetts' Jonathan DePina, left, and North Carolina's Ronald Curry, right, fight for control of a loose ball during the first half of their Tournament of Champions game.

Dec. 29, 2000

Box Score

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - It took a halftime tirade from North Carolina coach Matt Doherty to get the Tar Heels to toughen up.

The temper tantrum worked, as the 14th-ranked Tar Heels tightened their defense in the second half Friday night and pulled away from Massachusetts for a 91-60 victory in the first round of the Hardee's Tournament of Champions.

Doherty, furious at North Carolina's defense in the first half, did little to hide his displeasure in the locker room.

"He was not pleased at all, not at all and he let us know it," said center Brendan Haywood. "We'll just leave it at that."

When pressed, Doherty revealed the level of his disgust: "I'm going to have to pay for a chair," he said.

Joseph Forte scored 16 points and five other players scored in double figures for the Tar Heels (8-2), who won their fifth consecutive game.

North Carolina plays College of Charleston in Saturday's final. The Cougars, a 52-48 winner of Richmond in Friday's first game, beat North Carolina 66-64 in this tournament two years ago.

Massachusetts (2-8), which was coming off an 11-day layoff for final exams and the holidays, is off to its worst start since 1985-86. The Minutemen have lost eight of nine since a season-opening win over Iona.

"We went down 18 points and we just lost it," UMass coach Bruiser Flint said. "We started forcing shots because we were down. Bad shots led to bad turnovers."

But the Minutemen kept it close through the first half and were still in the game through the first 10 minutes of the second half.

"We looked flat in the first half and I don't know why," Doherty said. "It's just a funk that players sometimes go through. But we snapped out of it in the second half."

The Tar Heels, who turned the ball over three times in the first two minutes of the second half, couldn't build a lead bigger than 10 points until a decisive 19-6 run that started with 11:42 to play.

 

 

Leading 54-43, the Tar Heels forced three quick turnovers in a one minute span and converted them into six straight points for a 60-43 lead.

"Defense, defense, defense. That was the difference," Haywood said. "When somebody blew by someone, we had someone there to help out. Guys were willing to take a charge, fight for a rebound, whatever it took."

North Carolina then kept the pressure on, forcing 11 of its 19 turnovers in the second half and grabbing 14 steals. They held the Minutemen to six free throws in the decisive run, and wore Massachusetts out with full-court passes and fast-break baskets.

The Minutemen shot just 30 percent for the game.

"Coach got his point across to us at halftime, so we came out hard in the second half," said Carolina forward Jason Capel. "We turned up our defensive pressure and kept running fresh bodies at them until we wore them down."

After Julius Peppers hit two free throws to put the Tar Heels up 80-54 with 3:46 to go, Doherty emptied his bench to the delight of the Charlotte Coliseum crowd.

Kris Lang scored 12 points for North Carolina, while Capel and Max Owens both added 11. Haywood and Ronald Curry both had 10.

Monty Mack led Massachusetts with 20 points. Micah Brand added 10.

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