- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Rasheed Sulaimon knew all about playing at North Carolina from his time with rival Duke. He was prepared for the hostile reception he got when he arrived with No. 2 Maryland.

Sulaimon finished with 18 points and five 3-pointers in Tuesday night’s 89-81 loss to the No. 9 Tar Heels in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

UNC’s rowdy home crowd booed Sulaimon every time he touched the ball, but Sulaimon never looked rattled nor out of control in his return to Chapel Hill.

“He’s used to it,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “He played on a team that was the most hated team in America where he went, so he’s used to it. He probably thrived on it. I thought he was terrific.”

Sulaimon, a senior, had played here twice before, scoring a combined seven points on 2-for-12 shooting in those games. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski dismissed Sulaimon from the program last January for being “unable to consistently live up” to team standards.

“I’m a Maryland Terp now,” Sulaimon said. “The past is the past. All you can do is go forward in life, and I’m happy where I’m at. I’m familiar playing in this building, but I came here with my brothers, my teammates, and we played a hell of a game.”

Sulaimon’s return was overshadowed by that of North Carolina’s Marcus Paige, who scored 20 points in his season debut following a hand injury.

Brice Johnson added 16 points for the Tar Heels (6-1), who shot 53 percent to hold off Melo Trimble and the Terrapins in a top-10 matchup.

Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists to lead Maryland (6-1), which shot 51 percent but committed 22 turnovers that UNC converted into 21 points.

This was the headlining matchup for the interconference series, pitting two Atlantic Coast Conference charter members with Final Four aspirations. Paige and Trimble basically took this one over for much of the second half, putting on a show of high-level guard play to make this matchup worthy of the rankings.

Eventually, Paige and the Tar Heels - the preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 before sliding with a loss at Northern Iowa - put together enough stops and key baskets to slowly stretch out the lead and wrestle away control in the final 7½ minutes.

Maryland missed eight of its last 10 shots as North Carolina slowly pushed a 74-72 lead back to double figures after blowing a 13-point first-half lead.

Paige finished with a 7-for-12 shooting performance and made 4 of 5 3-point tries to go with five assists and one turnover in 34 minutes, showing no ill effects from the broken bone in his right hand - an injury to his non-shooting hand sustained in practice Nov. 3 - nor rust from missing the first six games.

He also came up with a big defensive play, drawing a charge on Trimble in transition after a turnover with 3:03 left and UNC protecting an 85-76 lead.



Maryland: Trimble had eight turnovers. … Maryland made 12 of 26 3-pointers. … The Terps never led by more than a point. … Longtime former coach and Hall of Famer Gary Williams was in the stands.

UNC: Paige drew a charge on Trimble in transition after a turnover with 3:03 left and UNC up 85-76. … Joel Berry II finished with 14 points. … The Tar Heels made 9 of 13 3-pointers. … Rapper J.Cole, an instate native of Fayetteville, sat courtside.


With Paige back in UNC’s starting backcourt, sophomore Theo Pinson moved back to the bench and played a season-low 18 minutes, while fellow guard Nate Britt played a season-low 10.


Maryland hosts St. Francis (Pennsylvania) on Friday.

UNC hosts Davidson on Sunday.


Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at https://collegebasketball.ap.org

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