Heels' 2nd half does in GMU, 115-81

Felton: A UNC record 18 assists

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – After going into the locker room trailing and having allowed George Mason and its four-guard offense to shoot 50 percent from 3-point range, tenth-ranked North Carolina stormed out in the second half and shot 65-percent from the floor and quickly rolled the Patriots, 115-81.

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    Carolina (5-0) put on a fast break and dunking exhibition in the second half, as five Tar Heels finished in double-figures, led by Sean May's 26 points. GMU (4-2) simply had no answer for May, as he also blocked two shots, made three steals and had two assists.

    "That second half was great, especially with the fire and enthusiasm we came out with," May said. "Coach said, ‘You guys know what the problem is: you've got to play defense -- you're not playing any defense right now.'"

    Jawad Williams and Rashad McCants each scored 21 points and freshman Reyshawn Terry chipped in 10.

    "We just didn't want them to stay in the game like Cleveland State did," McCants said. "We knew they had a lot of energy and they were hyped. So we had to pick up our energy level and be more aggressive."

    It was Carolina's highest scoring output since putting up 129 points in a win over VMI on Dec. 17, 1994. It was the first time the Tar Heels had scored over 60 points in a half since pouring in 64 against Duke in 1995.

    Raymond Felton set a new school record with 18 assists to go along with eight points.

    "I was surprised because I hadn't really been thinking about it," Felton said. "I figured I had a lot of assists, but not that many."

    Jeff Lebo and Ed Cota held the previous mark of 17 assists.

    "The game was great, but we're not completely satisfied," he said. "We got a win, but we played terribly in the first half. I'm satisfied with the second half, but not happy with the game as a whole. We have so much more room to go."

    "I feel extremely happy for Raymond," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "He really made some good decisions. I told him he's got more assists in one game than some of the greatest basketball players."

    George Mason jumped out to 18-9 lead in the game's first three and a half minutes. With 5-foot-9 point guard Terry Reynolds isolated against Felton and Melvin Scott, he was able to confound the Tar Heels' man-to-man defense with his dribble penetration and passing.

    "The first half we stopped them and ran on them," Reynolds said. "In the second half, they started off with a few easy baskets and that got them going and they just kept on going from there.

    "We should have come out a little more aggressive on the defensive end. Without defense, we're going to struggle."

    Carolina then went on a 14-0 run over the next 2:52 to quickly post a 23-18 lead. During that span, the Patriots lost guard Lamar Butler for the game to an ankle injury – a key component to their offense.

    However GMU kept up its torrid shooting, and despite severe match-up problems across the board against the Tar Heels, took a 49-47 lead at the half.

    "We realize it's a lot easier to play GMU after Butler got hurt," Roy Williams said. "We understand we were fortunate from that standpoint.

    "We also were fortunate when they started missing shots," he said. "We had trouble guarding the dribbler who would drive and then dish off to someone who would knock down the 3-pointer."

    But the second half was something completely different.

    With the Patriots struggling – they shot just 41-percent from the floor, including 33-percent from beyond the arc in the second half – Carolina lit it up. UNC was 24-of-37 in the final period, and 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

    "That looked like two different games to me," GMU coach Jim Larranaga said. "We wanted to come out up-tempo, even though we know that's Carolina's strength. We ran for the first 20 minutes with a lot of energy. We executed on offense. But it was over in the first three minutes of the second half."

    The Tar Heels outscored the Patriots 68-32 after intermission.

    "Things just rolled much better for us in the second half," Williams said. "We had done all right on the offensive end; we just needed to get more shots."

    "Sean May is the hub of their offense, because he can score and he can pass," Larranaga said. "They create a lot of space for him by moving the ball in transition. But they can hurt you from all five positions."

    Jesse Holley saw his first action of his career, scoring four points in three minutes of action.

    Mark Davis led George Mason with 21 points and Jai Lewis added 17.

    The Tar Heels will break for exams this upcoming week and practice just twice before they host Akron Sunday at 1 p.m.

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