8:00 PM ET, January 11, 2004
Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- With Raymond Felton weaving through the defense and Sean May dominating inside, North Carolina (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) ran right past No. 8 Georgia Tech on Sunday night.Felton had 25 points and nine assists and the Tar Heels never trailed in beating the Yellow Jackets 103-88. May had a career-high 28 points for the Tar Heels (10-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 10 of the last 12 meetings in the series. Rashad McCants added 17 as the Tar Heels earned a big win before an important stretch that includes a trip to Maryland and a home game against No. 1 Connecticut. Felton powered the North Carolina offense with his steady ballhandling, beating Georgia Tech's fullcourt pressure and speeding up the Tar Heels' offense. He routinely found teammates for easy scores or provided them himself when the Tar Heels needed a basket. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt praised Felton, who went 7-for-11 from the field and 10-for-12 at the line, for his command of the floor, while North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Felton had his best game of the season. "That's wonderful just to see the court spread out like that," Felton said. "You've got a lane and you just penetrate." May, meanwhile, went 11-for-20 while pulling down eight rebounds. The Yellow Jackets (12-2, 0-1) had held opponents to 57.6 points and 36 percent shooting per game, but the Tar Heels shot 49 percent and passed the 100-point mark for the fourth time this season. Both figures were the most allowed by Georgia Tech this season. "I still think we can win games in the 50s and 60s," Williams said, "but I'd rather win in the 90s." Jarrett Jack scored 22 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, who haven't won at the Smith Center since February 1996. Georgia Tech has lost five straight conference openers. Georgia Tech also committed a season-high 24 turnovers and shot a season-low 41.5 percent. North Carolina hit its first four shots, all from 15 feet or closer, to take a 9-0 lead and never looked back. Felton had a three-point play and two assists during the opening spurt. The Tar Heels led by as many as 21 points in the second half and never let the lead slip below nine, but it wasn't easy. The Yellow Jackets played aggressively and pushed the ball back up the court in a furious effort to get back into the contest. In addition, the Tar Heels, who lack depth, got into foul trouble and had to play without Jawad Williams for most of the second half. Williams got a bloody nose and a possible concussion when he collided with Jack near midcourt with 18:21 to play. Williams sustained a concussion in the Tar Heels' win against North Carolina-Wilmington on Dec. 28. In the end, however, the Yellow Jackets' early hole was just too much to overcome. "We can't start off like that and expect to go out there and finish strong," said Clarence Moore, who finished with three points and three rebounds. North Carolina hit 12 of its first 19 shots and used a 10-0 run to take a 36-16 lead on a basket from May with 9:17 left in the half. Georgia Tech closed the gap to 13 before the Tar Heels answered with one of several spurts _ a 7-2 burst _ that pushed the lead to 53-35 on May's inside score off a feed from Felton. "Every time we made a run," Hewitt said, "they sent us back the other way." The Yellow Jackets stayed in the game by going 5-for-10 from 3-point range, but trailed 53-39 at the break.