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Paige, No. 20 UNC cruise to win over UAB

Dec 28, 2014 - 3:20 AM Chapel Hill, NC ( - Marcus Paige scored 16 points to lead all scorers and help No. 20 North Carolina beat UAB, 89-58, on Saturday.

The Tar Heels (9-3) used a number of dunks to dominate the points in the paint battle by a 40-28 margin. Kennedy Meeks netted 14 points and grabbed a game- high nine rebounds and Justin Jackson contributed 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

C.J. Washington led the Blazers (4-9) with 12 points and pulled down seven boards. Robert Brown and Chris Cokley joined Washington in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Blazers shot just 3-of-25 from long distance and 30.5 percent overall.

UNC led the game from wire-to-wire starting with a Meeks jumper a minute into the game. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes by forcing five turnovers and getting six points from Meeks.

"The three-point shot for them, when it is going in, they're almost unstoppable to guard," said UAB coach Jerod Haase. "And they are so good in transition, they're so good getting the ball inside, they're so good getting fouled, and so when they are hitting some threes, and it doesn't have to be 10-12-14 three's in a game to have a big-time effect."

With six minutes remaining in the half, the Blazers cut their deficit to 10 points, but the game would not get any closer. North Carolina finished the half on a 17-6 run for a 44-23 lead at the break.

The Tar Heels ran their lead to as much as 36 in the second half when Theo Pinson scored five straight points for UNC with 2 1/2 minutes left but the Blazers scored the final five points of the game to account for the final margin.

While each team committed 18 turnovers, UNC was much more effective converting the takeaways into points. The Tar Heels scored 27 points off the Blazers turnovers while UAB only scored 15.

"The only disappointing thing, in the second half, was the turnovers," said UNC coach Roy Williams. "Everybody's trying to hit a home run. Just make the easiest play and don't try and make something when it's not there."

Game Notes

North Carolina leads the all-time series, 4-1 ... UAB has not beaten a ranked team since they beat the Tar Heels on Dec. 1, 2013 ... UNC outrebounded UAB 44-33 ... The Tar Heels collected 19 assists as a team and the Blazers only had 10 ... UNC takes the court next against William & Mary on Tuesday while UAB does not play until Jan. 4 when it opens Conference USA play against Middle Tennessee.