CBKB: No. 11 UNC beats Nevada 80-73 for Williams’ 600th
By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Deon Thompson scored a career-high 23 points and No. 11 North Carolina beat pesky Nevada 80-73 on Sunday night to give coach Roy Williams his 600th career victory.
Ed Davis added 16 points, 15 rebounds and a pair of momentum-changing blocked shots late for the Tar Heels (6-1), who endured an uncharacteristic second-half slump, warmed up down the stretch with an 11-3 spurt and hit 4 of 7 free throws in the final minute to dodge Nevada’s upset bid.
Armon Johnson scored 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting and Luke Babbitt added 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Nevada (2-3). The Wolf Pack shot 41 percent and held the Tar Heels without a field goal for five minutes before missing 10 of their final 14 shots.
That was enough to make Williams the 33rd coach in Division I history to reach the 600-victory mark. He improved to 600-139 in his 22nd season and became the eighth active coach to hit that milestone.
But for a while, that landmark victory seemed like anything but a certainty against a Wolf Pack team playing the second game of a three-game 5,731-mile road swing.
Larry Drew II finished with 12 points and a career-high 10 assists, and hit two 3-pointers 45 seconds apart during the burst that gave the Tar Heels just enough breathing room to avoid the Wolf Pack’s upset bid.
Thompson started the decisive burst with a layup through traffic that put North Carolina up 62-61. That also ended the 5-minute string of offensive futility in which the Tar Heels missed eight consecutive shots and their only points came on a pair of free throws by Drew.
Will Graves put North Carolina ahead to stay with a stickback with about 6› minutes remaining, Drew followed that with 3s from the left wing and right corner and Thompson capped the run with a turnaround jumper with 3› minutes left that gave him a career scoring high and made it 74-67. The Wolf Pack didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.
Williams wore a sling on his left arm while coaching his first game since having surgery last week to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. But the apparatus didn’t seem to frustrate him nearly as much as the Wolf Pack did in keeping things tight throughout.
Dario Hunt scored 12 points before fouling out in the final moments and Joey Shaw added 11 for Nevada, which was denied its first road win of the season. Two nights earlier, the Wolf Pack lost at Virginia Commonwealth and they still must visit Pacific on Dec. 5 before returning home.
Marcus Ginyard finished with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting for the Tar Heels, who next face a championship-game rematch with second-ranked and fellow once-beaten Michigan State on Tuesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. North Carolina beat the Spartans 89-72 last April in Detroit to win its fifth NCAA title.