CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Roy Williams wanted a timeout. What the North Carolina coach got was a technical foul that woke up a sleepy crowd and a sloppy team.
The 19th-ranked but occasionally complacent Tar Heels held off William & Mary’s late comeback bid and pulled away for an 86-64 victory Tuesday night.
“Once we saw that, we were like, ‘Let’s go ahead and run them out of here,’” forward Brice Johnson said.
J.P. Tokoto matched a season high with 19 points, Marcus Paige scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and Nate Britt had 11 with two key 3-pointers down the stretch for the Tar Heels (10-3) - whom Britt described as “lazy” and “careless” in the second half.
They never trailed but let most of a 25-point lead slip away before overcoming the Tribe’s late rally - and that T on Williams - to earn their fourth straight win.
After official Jamie Luckie reversed a block-charge call and gave the whistle to Johnson with 11:14 remaining and the Tar Heels up 61-47, an incensed Williams came onto the court while motioning for a timeout and was T’d up. Williams removed both his suit jacket and his glasses, as a subdued crowd came to life for the first time all night.
Williams said his shouts were directed at swingman Theo Pinson - whom he wanted to call a timeout - not the officials.
“I didn’t think I was dealt with fairly, but those guys have a hard, hard job,” Williams said of the officials.
Daniel Dixon scored a career-high 20 points and Marcus Thornton added 17 for William & Mary (6-5).
The Tribe closed within single digits only once in the second half, with Dixon’s 3-pointer from the corner made it 68-59 with 6 minutes left.
Paige followed with a three-point play, then hit two free throws on the next trip downcourt to push the lead to 14. Britt hit 3s on consecutive possessions about a minute later to make it 79-60, and the Tar Heels kept pulling away.
North Carolina became the first team this season to reach that mark against the Tribe.
It sure looked like the Tar Heels were headed for an easy win when Tokoto’s putback with 2½ minutes left in the first half making it 49-24.
But with Dixon and Thornton heating up, the Tribe outscored UNC 35-19 during the next 16½ minutes. Dixon hit three of his four 3s during that stretch.
“After such a horrendous start, to dig the hole we dug, it’s very difficult to get back in the game at a place like Carolina,” Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. “But in the second half, I felt we were a really tough basketball team.”
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“It’s usually not that loud unless it’s a Duke game or it’s against (N.C.) State,” - Tokoto, on the noise level at the otherwise-hushed Smith Center after the technical foul.
This was a strong bounce-back effort for Tokoto, who had three points on 1-of-5 shooting three nights earlier against UAB. He reached double figures for the first time since also scoring 19 on Dec. 7 against East Carolina.
William & Mary: The Tribe - a 48 percent shooting team - shot just 38 percent. They were 7 of 27 from 3-point range after entering shooting 40 percent from behind the arc.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels shot 66 percent in the first half - their best opening 20 minutes of the season - but made just 35 percent in the second half.
William & Mary plays host to the College of Charleston on Saturday.
North Carolina is at Clemson on Saturday.
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