SOUTH BEND, Ind. — North Carolina grabbed a four-point lead at halftime, then pulled away with a spurt to start the second half in a 73-62 victory over host Notre Dame Saturday.
Forward James McAdoo (18 points), guard Marcus Paige (16), forward J.P. Tokoto (13) and forward Brice Johnson (10) teamed up to give the Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) their fifth consecutive victory.
Notre Dame (12-12, 3-8), which was led by Garrick Sherman (17 points), Eric Atkins (12) and Zach Auguste (10), lost for the fifth time in six games.
North Carolina put together an 8-2 run to start the second half to turn a close game into a double-digit Carolina advantage.
Notre Dame had difficulty matching the Tar Heels’ athleticism. That advantage became evident on the boards. North Carolina dominated the glass in the first half, especially on the offensive side, and finished with a 37-32 edge.
It took a while for North Carolina to find its legs in the first half. Once the Tar Heels’ inside game started clicking, they owned a 27-23 lead at intermission.
North Carolina shot just 36 percent (12 of 33) in the first 20 minutes, but a 21-15 rebounding edge (9-2 on the offensive end) made up for that deficiency. Paige and Tokoto scored nine points each.
After trailing most of the half, Paige hit a 3-pointer with 1:56 to play to tie the game 23-23. Thirty seconds later, McAdoo slammed home a Paige miss to give Carolina its first lead since the opening bucket.
Forward Garrick Sherman and guard Pat Connaughton had six points each for the Irish, who shot just 39 percent (nine of 23).
Notre Dame has not been a fast-out-of-the-blocks sort of team through the ACC season, but the Irish got a jump start against North Carolina.
Connaughton’s 3-pointer with a little more than 3 minutes gone in the game was pivotal in Notre Dame getting out to a 10-2 lead. A little later, Atkins gave the Tar Heels’ spirit a hit when North Carolina’s tough defense forced the Irish to run down the shot clock. Just before it expired, Atkins drilled a 3-pointer.
NOTES: Notre Dame sophomore F Austin Burgett, who missed the last four games after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, returned to the Irish lineup Saturday. The 6-foot-9 Burgett, who is averaging 3.5 points per game, had a surgical procedure to address the issue. … North Carolina came into South Bend riding the crest of a four-game winning streak. The win added to its longest string of victories. … The Irish have been struggling, losing five of their last six.
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