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North Carolina freshmen Nassir Little and Coby White come up big in win over Notre Dame

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 1/16/2019 By Jonathan M. Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
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Video by ACC Digital Network

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina is slowly learning that nothing in the ACC will come easy.

Louisville, despite being unranked, taught the Tar Heels that on Saturday, handing them their fourth loss of the season. Notre Dame taught it to them on Tuesday.

This time, though, the Tar Heels were able to pull out a close victory, 75-69 at the Dean E. Smith Center.

BOX SCORE:  NO. 13 NORTH CAROLINA 75, NOTRE DAME 69

"I got my wish. I wanted to win one ugly," UNC coach Roy Williams said.

It was a struggle at first. The game was tight, and Notre Dame (11-6, 1-3 ACC) went into halftime with a three-point lead. The Fighting Irish also led for most of the second half.

But UNC's freshmen came through when they needed them. Down by one point, with about six minutes left, freshman guard Coby White hit a 3-pointer to put the Tar Heels up by two points. The Tar Heels got a defensive stop on Notre Dame's next possession, and UNC freshman wing Nassir Little scored on a layup, while being fouled.

Little and White's six combined points were part of an 8-0 scoring run that helped give the Tar Heels the lead for good over the Fighting Irish.

White led UNC (13-4, 3-1) in scoring with 17 points. Senior forward Luke Maye had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Cam Johnson had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

The Tar Heels were coming off their worst home losses since Roy Williams had become head coach. Louisville took it to UNC last Saturday, 83-62.

The energy from the Louisville game appeared to carry over in their game against Notre Dame. The Tar Heels couldn't stay in front of their man.

But a few big defensive plays in the second half seemed to turn things around for the Tar Heels on defense.

One of the biggest plays of the game happened in the second half with about 12 minutes left after a UNC turnover. Notre Dame freshman Nate Laszewski stole the ball and had it with no one in front of him. But UNC junior guard Seventh Woods chased him down and blocked Laszewski's layup at the rim.

Woods hit two free throws on the other end.

UNC had nine turnovers in the first half, and but only two in the second half.

Little came alive late in the second half. He finished with 11 points, all of which came after halftime. His layup and free throw with 5:40 left, finally gave the Tar Heels some breathing room.

"He was probably the key to the game," Williams said. "I thought he was huge for us."

Notre Dame finished the game shooting 41 percent from the floor. UNC will next play Miami on the road on Saturday.

Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com

a basketball player with a crowd watching: North Carolina's Luke Maye (32) defends Notre Dame's Juwan Durham (11) during the first half at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. The host Tar Heels won, 75-69. **FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY**

North Carolina's Luke Maye (32) defends Notre Dame's Juwan Durham (11) during the first half at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. The host Tar Heels won, 75-69. **FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY**
© Grant Halverson/Getty Images/TNS

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