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North Carolina (4-2) inched out to an early 12-6 lead in a slow moving first half, but the College of Charleston (4-3) hung around with a methodical pace and tough defense, eventually taking a 24-22 lead on a Andrew Goudelock 3-pointer. UNC regained the lead with a 6-0 spurt and took a 28-27 advantage into halftime.
The Tar Heels increased that margin to 34-30 before the Cougars rallied behind Goudelock with an 18-9 spurt to grab a 48-43 lead with 13:10 to play. But North Carolina responded with a 19-6 run to take control and built a 71-61 lead with 1:54 remaining.
John Henson led North Carolina with 19 points and also grabbed seven rebounds, while Tyler Zeller posted eight points and 10 rebounds. Harrison Barnes scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds. Goudelock paced the Cougars with 28 points on 11-of-27 shooting (5-of-15 3-pointers), and Trent Wiedeman added 12 points and nine rebounds.
North Carolina shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) from the floor, while holding College of Charleston to 38.0 percent shooting (27-of-71, 9-of-30 on 3-pointers). The Tar Heels both forced and committed 14 turnovers, and outrebounded the Cougars, 43-42.
INSIDE THE GAME
The Tar Heels witnessed up close just how good Goudelock was last year when the Stone Mountain, Ga. native directed the College of Charleston's upset over UNC with 24 points and eight straight points in clutch time, so containing the senior guard was the obvious top priority entering Sunday night's contest.
Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald rotated off Goudelock for much of the night, staying in his shirt and denying him the ball early. His first basket didn't come until just over three minutes remaining in the first half.
"We don't really see a lot of teams with their length and their size, so when you get out there and you see guys that tall and that strong, it's a little bit different and you've got to get used to it," Goudelock told reporters after the game.
But despite holding Goudelock scoreless for the majority of the first half, the Cougars only trailed 22-19 before their senior sharpshooter entered the stat book.
"Our game plan was to hang in there with them and let's see if Goudelock can get hot," College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins said. "And it happened. We hung in there with them and he got hot. I was really proud of him – he put on a show."
With North Carolina holding a 38-35 lead early in the second half, Goudelock flipped his superman switch and scored 13 straight points on five consecutive possessions, including three 3-pointers, to give the Cougars a 48-43 advantage with 13:10 left to play. He hit another bucket with 10:57 remaining, but UNC's defense hounded him over the next 10 minutes as he missed his next six shots and had to leave the court for a spell while dealing with calf cramps.
Goudelock scored five points in the final 58 seconds, but it was too late as the Cougars were down eight points.
"I think the key was not letting him get the ball," Strickland said.
Five different Tar Heels defended Goudelock, including Strickland, McDonald, Barnes and Larry Drew. Seven-footer Tyler Zeller even stepped out to defend the 3-ball on one possession in the final seconds.
The Inner Workings of a Run
Trailing 50-45 with 12:38 remaining, North Carolina did what it's struggled to do all season – excel in grunt work. Get down and dirty, if you will. The Tar Heels' corresponding 19-6 run was fueled with blocks, steals and offensive rebounds that halted the College of Charleston's momentum while providing easy baskets for the boys in blue.
Strong defense allowed UNC to cut its deficit to 54-52 and then a Zeller block and a Henson steal led to a pair of Barnes free throws to knot the score at 54. Over the next five minutes and 31 seconds, the Tar Heels tallied four steals, nine offensive rebounds and three assists in building a 69-61 lead.
"I thought our team in the second half came together more as a team, with more emotion, more enthusiasm, and I think they lost themselves in the game more than they have at any point this year," UNC head coach Roy Williams said. "That's the way you grow and mature as a team. I loved our poise. They went up five, Goudelock is making some unbelievable shots, and we kept playing."
Silky Smooth… Henson?
If you've watched John Henson closely over the past 13 months, then his smooth offensive repertoire on Sunday likely caught you by surprise. The 6-foot-10 sophomore's first basket was a basic turnaround in the post, and his second was a hook from the left block. And those field goals were only the beginning.
The out of control, wild shots that have made UNC fans grimace during his career stayed out of sight – at least for this game – and the result was a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Henson pointed to a meeting last week with Williams during a workout session as the catalyst for his play against the College of Charleston.
"He said, ‘Just play within the flow and let things come to you,'" Henson said. "Because we both felt like I was forcing things a little bit. Thankfully, tonight I scored within the flow and it's a lot easier when the double teams aren't coming."