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UNC Now is your place for Tar Heel sports. Beat writer Andrew Carter has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @_andrewcarter or @accnow.

UNC 83, Maryland 74: Three points

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CHAPEL HILL — A belated, and brief, three points in the wake of North Carolina’s 83-74 victory at Maryland on Saturday …

First …
This was the Tar Heels’ grittiest victory of the season. North Carolina hasn’t had many games go down to the final few possessions this season. There was the 60-57 victory against Wisconsin in early November. The 73-72 loss at Kentucky in early December. The 84-78 victory against Long Beach State on Dec. 10.

Since then, though, UNC hadn’t played a game that featured much drama in the final moments. Then came Saturday. Maryland led by as many as nine points during the second half but Harrison Barnes made a 3 with about nine minutes to play that put the Heels up for good.

Then Barnes’ jumper from the right side put UNC ahead by six with about a minute to play. Those were clutch shots by a player who has developed a knack for making clutch shots. UNC prevailed in a hostile environment and amid foul trouble (both Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller finished with four fouls) that affected the rotation.

Second …
Barnes proved his toughness. There was no way, Barnes said later, that he wasn’t going to play on Saturday. Even though he’d suffered a sprained ankle earlier in the week, and even though he felt only about 60 percent at the start of the game on Saturday, he said he never thought about sitting out.

Barnes said his left ankle felt better as the game progressed but then, early in the second half, he re-sprained it. He said later that he felt as though someone had shot him in the ankle. Barnes retreated to the bench, briefly, but returned to help lead the Tar Heels down the stretch.

UNC’s intensity and toughness has at times been criticized this season but there was no doubting either on Saturday – especially because of the kind of performance that Barnes provided.

Third …
After such a high-level, competitive game, it’s a shame that UNC coach Roy Williams had to waste time afterwards talking about an ugly incident during the national anthem, when during a quiet pause a fan directed a loud expletive towards the Tar Heels.

Good for Williams for admonishing the individual who shouted profanity during the anthem but, of course, it’s sad that he had to waste words talking about it.

And … oh, yes: The Tar Heels now turn their attention to Duke.

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About the blogger

Andrew Carter is the University of North Carolina beat writer for the News & Observer.