Carolina blues: No. 1 Heels fall to BC

Rice scores 25 points to help visiting Eagles hand UNC first loss of season, 85-78

Nation

January 05, 2009|By From Sun news services

Tyrese Rice came through with another big game against North Carolina, one that ended all the talk of a perfect season for the top-ranked Tar Heels.

Rice scored 25 points and Rakim Sanders added 22 to help Boston College stun host North Carolina, 85-78, yesterday, likely ending the Tar Heels' run atop the early-season polls with a surprisingly one-sided win.

Reggie Jackson had 17 points - including seven in the decisive second-half run - for the Eagles (13-2, 1-0), who led by six points at halftime and pushed the lead to 15 before holding off a frantic rally in the teams' Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

It started with Rice, who scored 46 points in last year's late-season meeting and was again a matchup problem at the point for North Carolina (13-1, 0-1). But the Eagles had a lot more, namely a physical defense and an unwavering focus that kept them from getting too caught up in the moment as they inched closer to an upset that few could have imagined.

This was, after all, a team picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the 12-team ACC. And the Tar Heels were the unanimous No. 1 team in the national poll with five starters back from a Final Four squad that won a school-record 36 games.

"We just met the challenge," Rice said. "I felt like they hadn't been challenged all year. Every team that they've played against, they just walked right through them. You look at people playing defense against them, they stay back; people drive and they're standing straight up and not trying to contest shots.

"We wanted to challenge them to see if they could step up and play as hard as we were going to play."

North Carolina had been every bit as dominant as predicted so far, winning its first 13 games by an average of 26 points and breaking a school record for most consecutive double-digit wins set by the 1993 NCAA championship team. Its closest game was 15 points, its smallest halftime lead was eight, and it hadn't trailed in a game later than the 7:08 mark of the first half.

The Tar Heels sounded eager to see how they would handle a tougher game but now find themselves at the bottom of the conference standings to start their run for a third straight league title.

"We never sat in the locker room and said, 'Let's go straight undefeated,' " said Tyler Hansbrough, who had 21 points to lead North Carolina. "That was more people outside the locker room talking about that. Now you can put that to rest and bring us back down to reality, and we can all focus on what we need to do better instead of all this hype."

The Tar Heels shot 29 percent in the second half and 15-for-27 from the foul line for the game. That included a 5-for-12 effort in the last eight minutes as they desperately tried to rally from a double-digit deficit, getting as close as four points in the final minute.

The rest of the time, North Carolina looked lost.

No. 5 Duke 69, Virginia Tech 44: : Kyle Singler scored 19 points and sparked the decisive run that carried the host Blue Devils past the Hokies.

Duke (12-1, 1-0 ACC) held Virginia Tech (9-5, 0-1) to 13 points in the second half and outscored the Hokies 30-9 over the final 17 minutes.

No. 12 UCLA 83, Oregon 74: : Darren Collison scored 22 points and Josh Shipp added a season-high 17 as the Bruins (12-2, 2-0 Pacific-10) held off the host Ducks' second-half rally.

Tajuan Porter scored 24 points for Oregon (6-8, 0-2), including 15 in the second half as the Ducks pulled within three points after trailing by 11 at halftime.

California 81, No. 17 Arizona State 71:: Jerome Randle converted a four-point play with 2:13 remaining, matched his career high with 26 points and had a career-best 10 assists to lead the host Golden Bears (13-2, 2-0 Pac-10) to a victory over the Sun Devils (12-2, 1-1) for a seventh straight win.

No. 18 Louisville 74, Kentucky 71: : Much-maligned point guard Edgar Sosa hit a 25-footer with 2.8 seconds remaining to give the host Cardinals (9-3) a victory over the rival Wildcats (11-4).

Sosa finished with 18 points and Terrence Williams had 19 points and eight rebounds for Louisville, which escaped a major meltdown in the final seconds to beat Kentucky at Freedom Hall for the first time since 2002.

Jodie Meeks led the Wildcats with 28 points, and Patrick Patterson had 22 points and 15 rebounds.

No. 23 Michigan 74, Illinois 64: : Manny Harris had 16 points and four teammates also scored in double figures for the Wolverines (11-3, 1-1 Big Ten) in a victory over the visiting Illini (13-2, 1-1) that ended Illinois' seven-game winning streak.

Michigan rebounded from losing to Wisconsin by 12 points in its conference opener.

Portland State 92, Northern Arizona 91, 4OT:: Dominic Waters capped a career-high 41-point performance by hitting two free throws with 6.5 seconds left in the fourth overtime to give the visiting Vikings (12-4, 3-0 Big Sky) a win over the Lumberjacks (4-10, 1-2).

Portland State never led in regulation.

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