No. 15 UNC braces for Georgia Tech

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Though the victories keep coming at a reasonable rate for No. 15 North Carolina, the Tar Heels have found ways to make it interesting.

That tends to be the trend.

So more of that could be in store Saturday afternoon when Georgia Tech visits the Smith Center.

"We are a work in progress," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "I hope we're not a finished product right now. We've got to get better every day and that's what we're trying to do in practice."

North Carolina (15-4, 4-2 ACC) won earlier this week against Clemson despite the Tigers hitting 15 consecutive shots from the field during one stretch.

The Tar Heels can take solace that they're able to withstand such stretches. Still, they've been involved in four conference games decided by eight points or fewer.

"I started the season at 67 (years old) and going to end the season at 97," Williams said.

North Carolina forward Luke Maye needed five stitches in the Clemson game after taking an elbow late in the first half from teammate Kenny Williams. Maye returned in the second half and made an impact.

On Friday, coach Williams said Maye had no lingering problem from the blow other than a blackening eye.

North Carolina received 21 points from transfer Cameron Johnson, who made six 3-pointers against Clemson. It was a breakout performance for the guard, who matched his career high for 3s -- a mark set last year at the Smith Center when he played for Pittsburgh.

North Carolina tended to rely on perimeter shooting against Clemson, attempting 31 3-point attempts. That's the second most under coach Williams. Yet it was the first time in the Hall of Fame coach's 15 seasons with the Tar Heels that they took more 3-point shots than two-point shots (just 20 of those).

That didn't seem to faze the Tar Heels.

"I was just shooting my shot and not thinking about it," North Carolina guard Joel Berry II said. "Catching it and just going up into my shot."

Georgia Tech goes from Thursday night's 64-48 loss to No. 2 Virginia to this matchup at Chapel Hill, with the quick turnaround just part of the challenge.

"We're playing four unbelievable teams," said Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastor, whose team had a four-game winning streak snapped this week. "That's just the ACC. There are just no nights off in this league."

Georgia Tech (10-8, 3-2) is dealing with extremes in terms of opponents in a short span. Virginia provided a more deliberate style, while North Carolina prefers to operate at a high rate of speed.

Pastor said the Yellow Jackets can benefit from the Virginia game even with a schedule compounded by major challenges.

"We'll be able to grow from it," Pastor said. "We're building and we want to be in this position as we move forward in the season, but also as we move forward in the future. We want to get to this point where it's because we have a great foundation defensively. I think we're a very good defensive team."
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