CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina coach Roy Williams made no attempt to put a positive spin on the Tar Heels’ 73-71 win against Tennessee on Sunday night.
“Pretty easy to figure out,” Williams said. “Indiana was my 1,000th game as a coach, that means this was 1,003, and that’s the luckiest I’ve ever been in 1,003 games.
“That’s flat-out the bottom-line truth.”
Williams is 103-6 against non-ACC teams in the Dean Smith Center, where No. 7-ranked North Carolina improved to 10-1 with the win against the 4-4 Vols.
Tennessee led by as many as 15 points before taking a 44-36 lead into halftime. Senior Robert Hubbs lll scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half.
North Carolina opened the second half on a 6-0 run, but the Heels weren’t able to tie the game until there were 13 1/2 minutes left.
It was another 10 minutes before the Tar Heels reclaimed the lead for the first time since early in the first half, going up 70-69 with 2:14 left.
Tennessee had a chance to win or send the game into overtime on its final possession, but Lamonte Turner’s driving shot was blocked by Tony Bradley with 2 seconds left.
“I approach it like we stunk it up, and we made a couple plays at the end,” Williams said. “They played better than we did, but we did make a couple of good plays down the stretch, but you’ve got to play more intelligent.”
Vols coach Rick Barnes said playing teams close isn’t enough, and he’s disappointed with the loss.
• Tennessee was a 20-point underdog, its biggest underdog status of the season.
• It was the Vols’ first basketball trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., since 1948.
• Tennessee’s first-half field-goal percentage of 65.4 is the fourth best recorded by a North Carolina opponent at the Dean Smith Center.