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No. 8 North Carolina shakes off slow start to down Virginia Tech

Jan 20, 2012 - 4:59 AM Blacksburg, VA (Sports Network) - For the first 20 minutes, some of the lapses that plagued a 33-point drubbing at Florida State appeared once again.

Then North Carolina turned up the defensive intensity and provided a glimpse of its potential.

Harrison Barnes scored 27 points, while John Henson and Tyler Zeller added double-doubles as eighth-ranked North Carolina used a big second half to overwhelm Virginia Tech, 82-68, at Cassell Coliseum.

Henson posted 16 points with 16 rebounds and six blocks, Zeller recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds and Kendall Marshall filled the stat sheet with nine points, eight assists and four rebounds for the Tar Heels (16-3, 3-1 ACC), who were coming off the worst loss of the Roy Williams era last Saturday.

In the first half, North Carolina again didn't get its hands up on shooters and looked complacent at times, falling behind 39-34, but the second half was much different. A 19-0 burst was the signature of a 48-point onslaught triggered by a big defensive effort.

Erick Green led Virginia Tech (11-7, 0-4) with 17 points, Dorenzo Hudson came off the bench to score 16 points and Jarell Eddie added 15 for the Hokies, who have dropped four straight.

The Hokies improved their halftime position, pushing the advantage to 44-36 on Green's three-pointer just over a minute into the half, but then the well went dry and North Carolina put its foot on the pedal.

The Tar Heels started jumping in passing lanes, getting up and into shooters and converting their defensive intensity into run-outs and open shots. Henson's slam started a 19-0 burst that included nine points from Barnes, who netted six in a row at one junction. Zeller's three-point play with just over 14 minutes to go made the score 54-44 and Barnes' free throw moments later capped the run. Virginia Tech missed 15 straight shots during the stretch.

Dorian Finney-Smith's two free throws snapped a nearly six-minute scoreless streak, but by that time the damage was done. The margin grew to as many as 21 at 76-55 on Zeller's three-point play with five minutes to play. The last of Barnes' 21 second-half points came on a free throw for a 79-61 game with just under four minutes to go.

North Carolina raced to the finish line from there.

Game Notes

Virginia Tech is 0-4 in conference play for the first time since the 2006 season...North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland collapsed in pain during the second half after landing awkwardly on his ankle. He was helped off the floor...North Carolina made 51.7 percent of its shots in the second half and attempted 18 free throws to just three in the first half...Green scored in double figures for the 19th straight game...Robert Brown tallied 12 points for the Hokies.