for this game

Rice, Sanders lead Boston College to upset of UNC

Jan 5, 2009 - 4:19 AM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- All the talk of North Carolina going undefeated came to an abrupt halt in its league opener.

Tyrese Rice scored 25 points and Rakim Sanders added 22 as Boston College shocked top-ranked North Carolina, 85-78, in the opener of the Atlantic Coast Conference for both teams.

Freshman Reggie Jackson chipped in 17 points for the Eagles (13-2, 1-0 ACC), who beat the nation's top team for the first time since shocking the top-seeded Tar Heels in the second round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament.

"For the program, it's one league win right now, that's all it is," Boston College coach Al Skinner said. "I think our program has done OK, so it's not like we haven't had any success in the past.

"This is a league win, this is league play; we've got 15 more games to go and it may be no more significant than that. Maybe at the end of the season, maybe it has some significance, but right now ... I hope we don't do this, but if we lose in the next 14, what good is this win?"

North Carolina had won the previous four meetings in the series, including both by a combined 32 points last year.

"First of all, we have overall better ball-handlers this year," Skinner said. "That and I think our guys were very embarrassed by their performance down here last year. The guys that did play, they were disappointed in themselves - not saying that they should have beaten North Carolina, but that they should have represented themselves a little bit better."

The Eagles showed a great deal of resiliency in the big win, taking a 46-40 lead at the half and overcoming a series of runs by the Tar Heels.

"I grabbed Al (Skinner) after the game and told him it was a great win for them," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "It was very disappointing for us to say the least. I really believe they are the type of team who sets the tempo in the first half by outworking us. They were tougher and outrebounded us. In the second half we could never really get over the hump.

"I thought Sanders and Rice were both sensational for them in the first half. We just could never get over the hump. We did not get them to turn the ball over very much. Then we had some guys, including myself, who did not have as good as a day as we thought we would."

The lead was down to 58-56 when North Carolina freshman Ed Davis dunked with 12:29 to play. But Boston College struck right back, going on a 16-4 run to grab a 74-60 advantage with 9:24 left on a basket off a steal by Joe Trapani.

Jackson scored nine points - including his only 3-pointer - during the burst.

As expected, the Tar Heels (13-1, 0-1) would not go away, closing within four points at 82-78 with 46 seconds to play. However, the nation's top team uncharacteristically struggled to score, shooting just 29 percent (12-of-41) in the second half and finishing 15-of-27 on free throws.

"I think that sums it up," North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough said. "We didn't do the things that we wanted to, shots weren't falling, and defensively I think we had some lapses. But, we'll work on them."

After Boston College was whistled for a five-second violation on an inbounds under its own basket with 2:42 to play, UNC had a great opportunity to cut into a 82-73 deficit but missed three straight 3-pointers on a single possession.

"When you shoot 29 percent, it is hard to come back on people," Williams said.

The Tar Heels ended up 3-of-16 from the arc after halftime. Overall, they went 7-of-22 on 3-pointers.

Hansbrough had 21 points and nine rebounds and Wayne Ellington scored 16 for UNC, which did win the battle on the boards by a 50-40 margin, including 28 offensive rebounds.

Sunday's performance was a great departure from the Tar Heels' first 13 games of the season, in which they led by no less than eight points at the half en route to winning by an average of 26.4 points.

However, UNC could not intimidate the Eagles, who challenged the Tar Heels on every possession and did not back down when they knew UNC was trying to put together a run.

With UNC trailing 76-63 under seven minutes to play, Ellington jumped a passing lane for a steal and went down the court for a dunk. However, Sanders chased him down and got a big block to prevent the momentum from swinging.

Rice then hit a tough running bank shot to make it 78-63 with 6:22 to play.

Rice, who had 66 points in two losses to UNC last season, went 7-of-13 from the field and converted 9-of-10 free throws. He also handed out eight assists and grabbed five rebounds.

The Tar Heels then closed within 78-71 when a 3-pointer by Danny Green capped an 8-0 run with 4:07 left.

But Rice, the lone senior for Boston College, worked around a double-team near the top of the key to find Corey Raji open under the basket for a layup and a 80-71 lead with 3:47 left.

"I thought it helped to have a senior point guard that understands that and kept the pace the way we wanted to," Skinner said of Rice.

The sophomore Sanders shot 9-of-15 with four 3-pointers, grabbed seven steals and pulled down six rebounds.

Ty Lawson had 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting and Danny Green added nine and seven rebounds for North Carolina, which next will face College of Charleston on Wednesday before returning to league play.

"Nobody is incapable of losing," Green said. "What are you going to do, we're allowed to lose and do things of that nature. So, you just come back tomorrow, practice, and bounce back; become a better team."