Roy Williams No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0, 0-0 ACC) sure didn't make it look easy, but they made the shots they needed to make down the stretch to turn back an upset bid by the Holy Cross Crusaders (1-2, 0-0 Patriot) and escape with 62-54 win at Chapel Hill on Friday night.
Without their best shooter from a season ago—PJ Hairston has missed the first two games due to eligibility issues—the Heels struggled mightily on the offensive end, hitting just 38 percent of their shots from the field. They had long offensive droughts, and at one point, missed 12 consecutive shots.
North Carolina was led by sophomore guard Marcus Paige who dropped 23 points and controlled the action in the second half. He was clutch and really put a struggling team on his back.
Sophomore forward Brice Johnson contributed 12 points and five boards, and John Michael McAdoo—who was the hero of the season opener against Oakland—added 11 points and four rebounds.
For much of the game, Holy Cross had the nation on upset alert. They trailed early, but finished the first half on a 13-2 run to enter halftime with the game tied. They briefly led in the second half, but just didn't have the horses to compete down the stretch.
The Crusaders were led by by freshman forward Malachi Alexander with 13 points.
The Tar Heels will need to make significant improvements before their next contest. They welcome the 2-1 Belmont Bruins to Chapel Hill on Sunday.