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Upset Averted: #7 UNC Holds Off Ga. Tech

By The Sports Xchange

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Sophomore guard Joel Berry scored a career-high 19 points, including six in brief stretch when the lead changed in second half, as No. 7 North Carolina defeated Georgia Tech 86-78 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday afternoon at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Berry's 3-pointer and followed by his three-point play in a 24-second span propelled the Tar Heels into a 72-67 lead with 4:40 left.

Forward Brice Johnson's 15 points and 11 rebounds, guard Marcus Paige's 13 points and forward Isaiah Hicks' 12 points also lifted the Tar Heels (13-2, 2-0 ACC), who won their sixth consecutive game.

Guard Marcus Georges-Hunt tallied 25 points for Georgia Tech (10-4, 0-1), which lost its ACC opener for the 10th season in a row.

Guard Adam Smith scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half and forward Charles Mitchell had 14 points for the Yellow Jackets.

North Carolina didn't take a second-half lead until Johnson's dunk after more than eight minutes had elapsed.

Georgia Tech was back ahead briefly two more times before Berry went to work.

The Tar Heels scored on their last 11 possessions.

Georgia Tech led 42-39 at halftime, bolstered by five 3-point baskets. Smith hit four of those.

The Yellow Jackets held a 35-26 lead with slightly more than four minutes to play in the first half.

North Carolina center Joel James had six points in the first three minutes, eclipsing his season high. The senior ended up with 11 points, matching a career high.

The victory gave North Carolina coach Roy Williams a 143-57 record in ACC regular-season games. That's the best record in ACC history for a coach in his first 200 league games.

It was another gut-wrenching result for Georgia Tech, which last season lost 10 games by six or fewer points to conference opponents.

NOTES: North Carolina leads the series 67-24, including seven wins in a row against the Yellow Jackets. ... North Carolina has reached the 80-point mark in 11 straight games. ... North Carolina F Kennedy Meeks missed his sixth game in a row with a knee injury, though he went through pregame warmups. ... In the previous seven games, North Carolina allowed an average of seven points off turnovers. Georgia Tech had eight points off turnovers in the first half. ... Georgia Tech opened its ACC schedule on the road for the third season in a row. The Yellow Jackets go to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. ... North Carolina visits Florida State on Monday night, marking its third ACC game in six days.

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