No. 20 UNLV vs. North Carolina final score: Five double-digit scorers lead UNC to 79-73 win

Streeter Lecka

The North Carolina Tar Heels earned their biggest win of the season, as they used five double-digit scorers to improve to 10-3 heading into ACC play.

The North Carolina Tar Heels ended non-conference play with a big win as they defeated the No. 20 UNLV Runnin' Rebels, 79-73, at Chapel Hill. A week after dropping out of the rankings following a loss at Texas, UNC used a balanced offensive and defensive effort to claim arguably the school's biggest win of the season. The loss helped avenge last season's upset loss to the Rebels in Las Vegas.

UNC jumped out to a double-digit lead early, and appeared ready to roll through UNLV. The Tar Heels led by as much as 15 in the first half, receiving strong performances from P.J. Hairston and Brice Johnson. UNLV cut into the lead before the half, and trailed by nine heading into the locker room.

The Rebels jumped out quickly in the second half, using a 19-9 run to take a 49-48 lead. The Tar Heels were playing without their second leading scorer, Reggie Bullock, and it showed as they struggled to get points for chunks of the second half. However, the team showed some late mental toughness. UNC took the lead back on its next possession, and never gave it up. UNLV hung close but could never get back over the hump, and will head back to Las Vegas at 11-2.

North Carolina received double-digit contributions from five different players, including Dexter Strickland (16), P.J. Hairston (15), James Michael McAdoo (13), Marcus Paige (12) and Brice Johnson (12). McAdoo was arguably the biggest performer, as he also contributed nine rebounds and was an all-around tough play for the Rebels.

The two keys for North Carolina were turnovers and offensive rebounds. UNLV was sloppy with the ball, and it cost them quite a bit, particularly in the first half as UNC scored 11 points off UNC turnovers. The Tar Heels also performed well on the offensive glass. UNC struggled with some of their first attempts, but did a strong job on the boards to put back quite a few second-chance points, finishing with 16 points after offensive rebounds.

UNLV received 15-point contributions from Anthony Bennett, Anthony Marshall and Katin Reinhardt. Bennett showed his lottery pick potential with a big second half as he completed his fifth double-double, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds. More importantly for his long-term future, he showed all facets of his game, with a mix of power and finesse play that makes him a great inside-outside play. It is also noteworthy that Mike Moser made his return to game action following his elbow dislocation on Dec. 9 at Cal. Moser finished the game with three points and one rebound before fouling out.

The win wraps up North Carolina's non-conference play. The Tar Heels will open ACC play with a trip to Charlottesville to face the Virginia Cavaliers Jan. 6 at 8:00 p.m. on ESPNU.

UNLV heads home for a pair of tune-up games before heading into Mountain West play. The Rebels host Chicago State Jan. 3 and Cal State Bakersfield Jan. 5.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.