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UNC 94 Appalachian State 70

In a typical late December, pre-Christmas game against a mid-major, UNC plays well enough to grab a 94-70 win over Appalachian State.

Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Brice Johnson picked up right where he left off on Saturday hitting his first five field goal attempts and running his streak of made field goals to 16. That tied a UNC record held by Brad Daugherty during the 1985-86 season and pushed the Tar Heels out to an early 15-5 lead. Johnson's shooting paced a hot start for the Tar Heels on offense as UNC hit 11-of-15 over the first nine minutes of the game.

Meanwhile UNC's defense was a mixed bag. Appalachian State was as advertised shooting the three and also turning the ball over. The latter gave UNC plenty of scoring chances while the former kept the Mountaineers from being blown out completely. As UNC started to cruise, Marcus Paige went to block a shot on the perimeter and landed awkwardly on his surgically repaired right foot. Officially Paige's injury was called a "jammed ankle" and after sitting four a couple minutes did return to finish the half.

Around the time of Paige's injury, UNC went into a bit of shooting drought missing nine straight field goal attempts. Justin Jackson in particular struggled going 0-4 during that span including three misses on shots at point blank range. Despite the shooting troubles, UNC feasted at the free throw line hitting 18-20 in the first half. On the flip side the undersized Mountaineers outrebounded UNC 18-16 in the first half leading to nine second chance points. The rebounding edge and 51% shooting had Appalachian State within 11 at halftime.

The Tar Heels opened the second half with a Paige three and flexed some muscle to run the lead to 60-41. However Paige's ankle stiffened and Roy Williams opted to sit him for the remainder of the game. Appalachian State continued to shoot the basketball reasonably well to keep the deficit around 15 points for much of the second half . As the contest wore on the Tar Heels clamped down on the glass enjoying a 31-13 edge in rebounds in the second half.

UNC continued to inflict heavy damage on the interior. Justin Jackson shook off his poor shooting start to score 12 points and grab 10 rebounds. Brice Johnson posted another 20 point game hitting for 22 points on 9-12 shooting and pulling down nine rebounds. While Johnson grabbed much of the attention with another highly efficient outing, Joel Berry also resumed his play from Saturday. Berry registered his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 assists, the most assists by a Tar Heel since Kendall Marshall had 11 assists versus Creighton in 2012. Isaiah Hicks posted his fourth straight double figure scoring game with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He also had a season high six boards.

Marcus Paige said afterwards that the pain in his ankle was in the same place he had surgery but he has experienced this "a couple of times" since the surgery. Paige indicated it was not a concern and expects to be ready to go when UNC plays a week from now.

UNC heads into the week break for Christmas at 10-2 overall and return to action on December 28th versus Wes Miller's UNC Greensboro Spartans in the final game of the non-league schedule.