Paige helps UNC beat Virginia Tech 72-60 in OT
Marcus Paige threw away North Carolina's last good chance to beat Virginia Tech in regulation. He wasn't going to let anything slip away in overtime.
The freshman scored eight of his season-high 19 points in the extra session to help the Tar Heels beat the Hokies 72-60 on Saturday.
"In the overtime, he was the most important player on the court for us," coach Roy Williams said.
James Michael McAdoo had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Reggie Bullock added 11 points for the Tar Heels (15-6, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
They hounded the nation's leading scorer, Erick Green, into his second-worst game of the season and scored on their first nine possessions of overtime to pull away for their fifth win in six games.
Green, who averages 25.5 points, finished with 16 on 7-for-21 shooting and never got to the free-throw line while being defended mostly by Paige, Dexter Strickland or Leslie McDonald.
"We just did a great job (as) a team containing him and forcing him to make tough shots," Strickland said.
Green missed a jumper that would have won it in regulation and was held to fewer than 20 points for just the second time this season and first since he managed just 12 in a 26-point loss to BYU in December.
"I take blame. I shot terrible from the field today," Green said. "When you don't make plays, that's how it goes."
Jarell Eddie added 15 points for the Hokies (11-10, 2-6). They have lost four straight and 10 of 14 since starting 7-0.
McAdoo put North Carolina ahead to stay with a jumper that made it 59-57 with 3:45 left in overtime. Joey van Zegeren pulled the Hokies within one with a free throw on their next trip downcourt.
That's when Paige took over.
He entered 8 of 39 in his past five games but was 6 of 14 in this one while hitting four of his team's five 3-pointers.
"Coming into this game, he wasn't the best 3-point shooter," Virginia Tech's Robert Brown said. "We kind of let him shoot a little too much. The game plan was to find Bullock and find (Leslie) McDonald and go out to them. When we did that, they found Paige, and he knocked shots down."
Still fuming after his turnover late in regulation set up the Hokies up for a final shot, he hit an open 3 from the left wing with 3 minutes left in OT.
That made it 62-58, and he followed that with a jumper from the baseline that made it a six-point game. His three free throws in the final 1:36 helped ice it.
"I was pretty disappointed in myself to have a chance to get the lead . and throw the ball away, just a silly error on my part," Paige said. "So I wanted to come out and try to make up for it in overtime."
Cadarian Raines finished with 12 points and Brown added 10 for the Hokies.
Van Zegeren — a 46 percent free-throw shooter — tied it at 55 with two foul shots with 45.8 seconds left, and the Hokies got the ball back when Paige threw the ball away with about 30 seconds left.
Green milked the clock before his pull-up jumper from the wing over Bullock didn't hit anything, and North Carolina rebounded with 1.9 seconds left.
Bullock "got a nice little nip on it to make my shot fall short," Green said. "Other than that, it was a good look. That's everything I wanted. I couldn't have asked for a better shot than that."
Jackson Simmons' full-court pass was tipped out by a Hokie with 0.1 seconds. After a timeout, van Zegeren picked off Paige's inbounds pass in the lane.
North Carolina — which spotted Virginia Tech the first 12 points of the game — trailed by eight twice in the second half, but clawed back with a McAdoo-led 19-9 run to take its first lead.
Bullock, who missed his first five 3-pointers, swished an open 3 to make it 42-all with just over 13 minutes left. Brice Johnson then put the Tar Heels up 46-45 on a tip-in with 9½ minutes to go. After McAdoo stretched it to 47-45 on a free throw with 9:01 left, it was a one-possession game throughout the rest of regulation.
The Tar Heels played without injured swingman P.J. Hairston, who suffered a concussion in their last game at Boston College, and his absence was felt on the perimeter. They were 5 of 24 from 3-point range against the Hokies' 2-3 zone defense, with Bullock missing seven of his eight.