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The Daily Tar Heel

Scott leads balanced attack in Tar Heel win

RALEIGH — Melvin Scott prayed for an ailing Rashad McCants in church on Sunday. But when McCants was forced out of Tuesday’s game versus N.C. State, Scott received the chance he had been hoping for all year.

And the senior capitalized on his opportunity, nailing four 3-pointers and scoring 12 points to help the Tar Heels gut out an 81-71 victory at the RBC Center.

“We do feel fortunate to win,” said UNC coach Roy Williams. “We got some great performances from guys trying to make up for Rashad not being there. Melvin coming in and starting … made four 3s for us — that was big.”

Most of Scott’s contributions came early, as he scored a team-high nine points in the first half, including a 3 from the corner before the buzzer to stake UNC (23-3, 11-2 in the ACC) to a 38-33 halftime lead on the Wolfpack (15-11, 5-8).

Scott, who started because McCants is suffering from an intestinal disorder, also nailed a trey on the first possession of the second half to kick-start the Tar Heels.

“When I learned that Rashad wasn’t playing, I was like, ‘Uh oh … don’t be scared now, this is it,’” said Scott, who made his second start of the year. “I’m going to do what I usually do — don’t try to play above my head, to knock down open shots and do the things I’m capable of doing. I wasn’t out there playing above my head — I mean, that’s the Melvin Scott I know.”

UNC 81
N.C. State 71

Those were his last points, but the rest of the team picked up the scoring for him and McCants as four other Tar Heels reached double figures.

None was bigger than point guard Raymond Felton, who scored a season-high 21, with 17 coming in the second half.

Felton also handed out seven assists without turning the ball over once. In the four games since the Duke loss in which Felton committed eight turnovers, the junior has recorded 30 assists to just seven errors.

“At Duke he had eight turnovers, and since then, he’s been special, he really has,” Williams said.

After State’s Andrew Brackman scored eight straight points midway through the second half to cut UNC’s lead to three, Felton hit two 3-pointers and lofted an alley-oop to Sean May — who posted his fifth straight double-double — to spark an 11-2 UNC run that put the game away.

“We knew once they got it to three that we were going to run a set play, and that’s when Ray threw me the lob, and I got an offensive rebound and hit Ray,” said May, who had 14 points and 12 boards. “That’s just the chemistry that we have. This year, we’re a lot more mature, we kept our composure. Last year, this team would have wilted and faded away.”

The Wolfpack never got closer than seven points after the run. N.C. State made a furious effort to claw back, scoring nine points in the final 55 seconds, but the Tar Heels went 10-of-13 from the free-throw line to hold off the ’Pack.

With the win, UNC opened up a one-game lead on Wake Forest atop the ACC standings. But the Tar Heels also proved that they could win in the absence of someone as important as McCants — the team’s leading scorer.

“We all know we have to play,” Scott said. “Big-time game, we know we’re losing Rashad, they’re at home, going to have extra confidence. We’re going to go in and do what the Tar Heels are going to do, and we’re going to be fine.”

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