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The Daily Tar Heel

Felton wins battle of point guards

UNC guard has 10 assists in victory

HARTFORD, Conn. — Raymond Felton found himself in a familiar situation against Connecticut on Sunday.

With the clock ticking down toward the end of the first half, the junior point guard had an open look from the top of the key — a similar shot to the one Tar Heel fans had been wondering how he could have passed up four days earlier in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Although the shot caromed off the rim, this time Felton took charge of the situation.

Even though the Tar Heels trailed by three and Felton was struggling at halftime, he came out after the break and began to dominate his matchup with Connecticut point guard Marcus Williams.

“My individual stuff, I don’t worry about,” Felton said. “I feel like I let my team down (Wednesday), so I felt I had to make up for it.”

Williams outplayed Felton in the first 20 minutes, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists. The sophomore also chipped in seven points and an assist during a 12-2 run that gave the Huskies their biggest lead of the game.

“He wasn’t really aggressive in the first half,” said Williams, who finished with five assists and a career high 18 points. “First half, I was just taking what they gave me.”

But Felton took control in the second half, pressuring Williams on defense and forcing the tempo on offense. After collecting just two points and three assists in the first half, Felton finished with 16 and 10, respectively.

He also made five steals while harassing Williams into six second-half turnovers, converting many of those mistakes into easy baskets on the other end.

“(I was) pressuring the ball, thinking what he was going to do,” said Felton, who had just two turnovers after committing eight in the North Carolina loss to Duke. “Instead of just guarding a person, I try to figure out what they like to do. I was dictating what he was doing before he did it.”

Felton had a hand in every point in the Tar Heels’ 20-10 run in the second half, which turned a 44-41 deficit into a seven-point lead. He scored nine points and handed out five assists.

“Raymond was still, I think, feeling the effects of the other night,” said UNC coach Roy Williams. “He felt like he didn’t make a play down the stretch; that was bothering him. He didn’t play very well today, in the first half.

“(In the second half), he got more active, came up with a couple of steals, couple of deflections. I thought in one stretch for about five minutes, every time there was a loose ball, Raymond came up with it.”

On maybe the most spectacular play in UNC’s run, Felton deflected a Marcus Williams pass and came down with the loose ball. He looked up and found Marvin Williams streaking down the court and dished if off for a two-hand slam that tied the score at 44.

Felton added two more assists in the next 30 seconds, and the Tar Heels were on their way to the convincing road victory against a ranked opponent that had slipped out of their grasp on Wednesday.

“For my money, Felton is as good a point guard as I’ve seen,” said Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun. “Today, he was impeccable. … I thought in the first half, Marcus matched him. In the second half, Felton won the battle.”

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.

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