SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — James Michael McAdoo scored 18 points, Marcus Paige added 16 and North Carolina dominated inside after a slow start to defeat Notre Dame 73-62 Saturday for the fifth straight victory for the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels trailed by nine points twice in the first half, but their speed and athleticism wore the Fighting Irish down. North Carolina had a 44-24 advantage in the paint and a 37-32 rebounding advantage as they extended their season-long winning streak, all by double digits.
The Tar Heels (16-7, 6-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which started 0-3 in the ACC, improved to 2-3 in the league on the road. The loss dropped the Irish (12-12, 3-8) to .500 in February for the first time since losing five straight in 2006 to fall to 10-10.
The Irish couldn’t keep up with the more athletic Tar Heels. The first example of that was a high-flying slam dunk by J.P. Tokoto that ended a 9-0 run by the Irish early. Later in the first half, the Tar Heels took their first lead at 25-23 on a slam dunk rebound by McAdoo with 1:24 left before intermission.
After being held without a fastbreak basket in the first half, the Heels had three in the first four minutes after intermission and finished with an 8-0 edge in fastbreak points. It started with McAdoo stealing the ball from Steve Vasturia and passing ahead to McDonald for a layup 18 seconds in. Then J.P. Tokoto stole the ball from Austin Burgett for a dunk to give the Heels a 35-25 lead. That was followed moments later by Marcus Paige stealing the ball from V.J. Beachem and passing ahead to McAdoo for another dunk that gave the Tar Heels an 11-point lead.
The Tar Heels extended the lead to 44-30 on a dunk by Brice Johnson after Tokoto stole the ball from Notre Dame point guard Eric Atkins and later opened a 57-41 lead on a fastbreak layup Paige.
North Carolina forced 17 turnovers by the Irish, their second highest total of the season.
It was Notre Dame’s eighth loss in its last 10 games. Garrick Sherman led the Irish with 17 points, Atkins added 11 and Beachem and Zach Auguste had 10 each. Austin Burgett returned to the Notre Dame lineup after missing four games after undergoing a cardiac procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. He played 11 minutes but didn’t score.
McAdoo added eight rebounds for North Carolina and Tokoto had 13 points and seven rebounds and Johnson added 10 points.