No. 10 North Carolina 98, Marshall 61

BY foxsports • December 23, 2009

North Carolina rebounded from its latest loss by, well, rebounding.

Three days after slipping into their deepest deficit off the glass under coach Roy Williams, the 10th-ranked Tar Heels got back to dominating the boards - and the game - in a 98-61 rout of Marshall on Tuesday night.

And the biggest impact came from some of their biggest players: Ed Davis finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds and fellow forward Tyler Zeller matched his career high with 18 points for North Carolina (9-3).

After No. 2 Texas outrebounded the Tar Heels by 21 - their widest margin under their Hall of Fame coach - they held a 53-34 advantage on the glass against the Thundering Herd, who started three guards.

``We just have to be aggressive at all times. We have to box out, especially against a long, athletic team,'' Davis said. ``Teams like this and Texas and the teams we have to play in the ACC, we're not going to be able to just go after (rebounds). We have to box out.''

Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson added 14 points apiece, and swingman Will Graves finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds after he was held out of the starting lineup for the first time this season because Williams said he was ``disappointed in some things,'' which he did not identify.

``You've got to be able to put two halves together,'' Thundering Herd coach Donnie Jones said. ``We didn't come out in the second half playing with the energy (that was needed).''

North Carolina shook off a sloppy start and broke open a surprisingly close game by scoring 18 straight points early in the second half while holding Marshall without a field goal for roughly 5 1/2 minutes. The Tar Heels finished with as many defensive rebounds (34) as the Thundering Herd had at both ends of the court.

``Just competing, that covers a whole lot of things: Your rebounding, your execution, your turnovers, all those things,'' Ginyard said. ``Just getting out there with the will to win and the will to execute what you have to do.''

Shaquille Johnson had 16 points and Tyler Wilkerson added 12 for Marshall (9-2). The Herd had their seven-game winning streak snapped, and were denied their first victory against a ranked team since beating then-No. 9 West Virginia in 2006.

North Carolina claimed the 1,993rd victory in the program's history - only Kentucky, which one night earlier won its 2,000th, has more. But this one wasn't well in hand until the Tar Heels closed the first half with a 17-8 run capped by Graves' 3-pointer 2 seconds before the buzzer. That made it 44-35, their largest lead of a sluggish opening 20 minutes.

``I was afraid that we'd be a little tight, and I thought we were early in the game,'' Williams said.

They certainly got themselves back on track after halftime, taking their first double-figure lead when Ginyard hit a layup with about 16 1/2 minutes to play to make it 50-39. Davis ended that burst with a free throw that pushed it to 62-39, and Marshall didn't get closer than 18 the rest of the way.

It took a while, but the Tar Heels eventually turned this one into the kind of get-their-groove-back victory they needed after the 103-90 loss to the Longhorns in Cowboys Stadium - their second loss in three games. All three defeats have come against teams currently in the top five.

``Any time around here where you lose a game, people tend to overreact - particularly when it's very good teams,'' Williams said. ``I overreact because I want us to play better. It's not just the outcome of the game.''

Meanwhile, Marshall once again had the misfortune of facing a North Carolina team defending a national championship. Jones was a graduate assistant with the Thundering Herd in 1994 when the Tar Heels routed them 116-62.

This one wasn't quite that lopsided, but it did provide a sobering dose of reality for a Marshall team that had won nine of its first 10 games. Three of those wins came against non-Division I teams, and only one of the victories during its streak came outside the state of West Virginia.

Still, the Herd kept up with the Tar Heels for a while. They used an early 13-2 run to give themselves their snapshot moment: Dago Pena's bank shot gave the Herd a 21-17 lead with 8 minutes left in the half.

``They responded with their own run,'' Johnson said. ``Coach Jones said it was going to be a game of runs. ... It's just how you respond to it. When they made their run there ... we didn't have a good response to it. We didn't come out and keep fighting. It seemed like we kind of laid down.''

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