1:00 PM ET, December 28, 2003
Raiford G. Trask Coliseum, Wilmington, North Carolina
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) --Melvin Scott proved North Carolina has a deep backcourt.Scott scored 19 points and the No. 9 Tar Heels defeated North Carolina-Wilmington 71-54 Sunday at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in a game designed as a showcase for teammate Raymond Felton, a sophomore star who won two state titles for nearby Latta High."They don't pump my name up. I'm not on any first teams," Scott said. "I think they sleep on me to really focus on Raymond ... I think that appeals to me because I can really sneak up on them."But while Felton struggled to find his range early, Scott finished a point off his career best, set last year in the NIT against Wyoming to win the first meeting ever between the state schools."I'm the X factor," said Scott, a junior all but lost on a team that includes Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May and Jawad Williams. "It's no secret that I can play."Scott's play might have surprised those in the cramped arena, many wearing Carolina blue and cheering every time Felton touched the ball.And when both Williams and May went to the bench with minor injuries -- Williams took a shot to the face, May sprained his ankle -- Scott saw it as his chance to step forward."I knew I had to the open shots when I got them," Scott said.He and Felton did, particularly at the start of the second half during a 12-5 run that ended the upset chances of North Carolina Wilmington (4-4).Felton scored off a missed foul shot and Scott followed with a 3. Felton added another basket from long range and Scott made his fourth 3-pointer to give the Tar Heels a 35-23 lead."Melvin is a player that's not really known," Felton said. "But Melvin is a great player who can shoot the ball, as you can see."North Carolina couldn't get much going in the first, perhaps because of the lingering disappointment of a 119-114 triple-overtime loss to Wake Forest on Dec. 20.They shot a miserable 3-for-17 and went nearly eight minutes without scoring. McCants hit a jumper at the 16:41 mark and Scott ended the drought with a driving basket with 8:57 left in the half.Scott's shooting kept North Carolina in the game during its sluggish first half, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said."I did think Melvin was the best player on offense today," he said.Even with the crowd abuzz every time he touched the ball, Felton also struggled. His only first-half highlight came when he cut in front of Anthony Terrell for a steal and outran him to the basket for his only field goal in seven attempts in the period.North Carolina was saved by its intense defense, which led to 16 first-half Seahawks turnovers and forced North Carolina Wilmington into 6-for-19 shooting from the field. North Carolina Wilmington ended with 26 turnovers, tying its season high."Too athletic, too much pressure on the ball, too much diving through lanes," North Carolina-Wilmington coach Brad Brownell said. "They say, 'We got better athletes than you and we're going to challenge you to just make plays.' ... It was really difficult."Terrell led the Seahawks with 15 points.Felton scored 13 points and Rashad McCants 14 for the Tar Heels. May went 0-for-4 in 12 minutes and limped out of the locker room after the game.Williams would not say what May's status was for the team's game Tuesday against Coastal Carolina.It was easy to see why Felton and his teammates might get distracted. The game sold out quickly and people outside the arena were asking up to $125 for a ticket, more than double the face value.For those who got in, it was a Tar Heel celebration surrounding Felton. Fans dressed in Carolina shirts, caps and coats stood two and three deep around the court, snapping pictures during warmups and pointing out their favorite players to their children.A large group wearing the green and gold of Felton's high school, Latta, filed in to cheer its hometown hero. It wasn't the first time Felton starred on this floor -- he led Latta to a Beach Bowl Classic victory over powerful DeMatha High here in 2001.Felton said his focus was not on the attention."I didn't come here to show out," Felton said. "I came here to get a victory."
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