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Strickland's strong second half helps propel UNC past Georgia Tech, 70-58

Since North Carolina adopted a smaller starting lineup last week before its game at Duke, P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels’ sophomore guard, has received the most attention amid UNC’s successful transition to a new style of play.

During the Heels' 70-58 victory here on Tuesday night against Georgia Tech, though, two players who recently have been overshadowed and overlooked might have benefited most of all from a change that has given the Tar Heels (18-8, 8-5 ACC) renewed hope in what had been a sluggish season.

In the first half against the Yellow Jackets (14-11, 4-9), that player was James Michael McAdoo.

Given Georgia Tech’s defensive acumen, beating the Jackets before they had a chance to become set was important for the Tar Heels. And Dexter Strickland, UNC’s senior guard, helped them do that – especially during the second half.

UNC at Georgia Tech: The preview

A fast start would be advantageous for North Carolina against slow-it-down Georgia Tech. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — I’m about to start the drive down to Atlanta, where tonight North Carolina plays Georgia Tech in an ACC game of consequence at the McCamish Pavilion. The Tar Heels, of course, have been a different team in their past two games – mainly because of their new four-guard starting lineup.

UNC’s small lineup will be tested, as I write about in a story right here, against a large, lumbering Yellow Jackets’ frontcourt. Thoughts on that and more in our preview …

UNC forward Joel James out against Georgia Tech

North Carolina freshman forward Joel James continues to recover from a concussion and will not play on Tuesday night at Georgia Tech. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina freshman forward Joel James won’t play on Tuesday night at Georgia Tech while he continues to recover from a concussion he suffered earlier this month. It will be the third consecutive game that James has missed.

UNC 93, Virginia 81: The look back

P.J. Hairston was an aggressor on offense for UNC on Saturday. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — Apologies for the delay, folks. I’ve been fighting off a bad case of the plague. Or, I hope, maybe just some bad congestion. In any case, here’s a delayed, abbreviated look back at North Carolina’s 93-81 victory on Saturday against Virginia.

Hairston paces Tar Heels to 93-81 win over Virginia

After a slow start against slow-it-down Virginia, North Carolina imposed its will – and preferred playing style – in a 93-81 victory at the Smith Center on Saturday.

P.J. Hairston, the sophomore guard who started for the second consecutive game, led the Tar Heels (17-8, 7-5 ACC) with a career-high 29 points. Marcus Paige added 17 for the Heels, who shot 49.2 percent and made 13 3-pointers – the most they’ve made in an ACC game this season.

Virginia (18-7, 8-4), an aggressive defensive team that takes its time on offense, hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than 69 points this season. UNC had that many with about nine minutes to play on Saturday. With more than 15 minutes remaining, the Tar Heels had already eclipsed the 52 points they scored in a loss at Virginia in early January.

UNC guard P.J. Hairston on becoming a starter: I am ready

P.J. Hairston led UNC with 23 points on Wednesday night at Duke. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — Upon learning that he would enter North Carolina’s starting lineup for its game on Wednesday night at Duke, P.J. Hairston didn’t have much of a reaction. All he could think was, “OK. I’m ready.”

Hairston seemed to be. In his second start of the season, Hairston led the Tar Heels with 23 points, and he was their most consistent scorer during the second half of their 73-68 loss against the Blue Devils.

Duke 73, UNC 68: The look back

James Michael McAdoo helped UNC get off to a fast start at Duke on Wednesday night. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — It was a long, hot night inside Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. Longer still for coach North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who might have taken his team’s 73-68 defeat on Wednesday night harder than anyone.

Here’s a collection of our coverage from last night. Laura Keeley’s story about the game. A story from Chip Alexander about how Duke ignited its perimeter offense in the second half. And a story from me about what went wrong for the Tar Heels after their good start. And a column from Luke DeCock about the sense of inevitably that Wednesday night would belong to the Blue Devils.

And now, as always, the look back …

UNC at Duke: The preview

Marcus Paige and North Carolina's freshmen will face one of their most difficult tests tonight at Cameron Indoor Stadium. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — Welcome to game day, folks. North Carolina later today will bus out to Durham, to Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, for the latest installment of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry.

Will anything happen tonight that will become a part of the lore of this series? Stay tuned …

In the meantime, some things to know …

Stories from Roy Williams, others, on UNC-Duke rivalry

Roy Williams says he'll think about his memories from the UNC-Duke series when he's retired. But he did once own a Duke shirt. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina plays at Duke on Wednesday night. I asked some guys on the UNC side earlier for memories of this series. Here goes ...

How and why UNC has struggled: a story

North Carolina coach Roy Williams still wants to see more urgency from his players. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — If you haven’t already, be sure to check out a story I wrote today that details how and why it came to this for North Carolina, which has gone from a preseason top-15 ranking to a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.

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