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Here's what you missed from UNC Athletics over Winter Break

Kenny Williams Gonzaga
UNC guard Kenny Williams (24) goes up for a shot during the game against Gonzaga at the Dean Dome on Saturday night. UNC won 103 - 90.

While students were away from campus, the North Carolina athletic teams were busy at work.

Featuring a men's basketball upset win over Gonzaga and Sylvia Hatchell becoming the all-time winningest coach in ACC history, here's what you missed after classes let out in December:

Men's basketball

UNC kicked off the start of Winter Break with a 103-90 statement win over then-No. 4 Gonzaga, thanks to a 25-point performance from graduate forward Cameron Johnson. 

A week later, the Tar Heels took a step back against then-No. 19 Kentucky with a 80-72 loss in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago.

North Carolina won its next three games over Davidson, Harvard and Pittsburgh by a combined 67 points. Over the three-game stretch, Johnson continued to assert himself as the offensive leader for the Tar Heels, averaging 15 points and 6.7 rebounds. No. 12 UNC ended the break with a trip to Raleigh to face No. 15 N.C. State on Tuesday night. The Tar Heels defeated the Wolfpack 90-82, for their fourth straight win. Senior forward Luke Maye led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Women's basketball

The women's basketball team defeated UNC Greensboro on Dec. 14 to start its Winter Break. Against the Spartans, Hatchell picked up her 740th win at UNC, passing former Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan for most in ACC history. North Carolina then defeated Rice on Dec. 18. Sophomore center Janelle Bailey led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Two nights after beating the Owls, UNC faced Auburn. The Tar Heels held a two-point lead with 1:20 remaining in the contest, but the Tigers went on a 6-4 run to send the game into overtime. 

In the extra period, Auburn outscored UNC 17-12, to win the game 86-81.

Bailey followed the loss against the Tigers with a 30-point, 14-rebound performance in a win over Howard on Dec. 28. 

However, UNC ended the break with consecutive losses against then-No. 3 Louisville and Florida State. The Tar Heels, who were down by 17 points at halftime against the Cardinals, cut the lead to just two points with 1:24 left in regulation in the eventual 73-66 loss.

Against the Seminoles, UNC led by four points with just over three minutes left. A 10-5 FSU run put the game away at 64-63, marking the third straight season UNC has started conference play 0-2.


UNC wrestling hosted Nebraska in a matchup of top-15 teams on Dec. 15. The Tar Heels were handed their first loss of the season, 22-15. 

Two weeks later on Dec. 29, North Carolina kicked off the South Beach Duals with losses to Indiana and Minnesota. One day later, the Tar Heels bounced back with wins over Lehigh and North Dakota State.

UNC ended the break with an appearance in the Cowboy Shootout on Jan. 4. Despite falling to Wyoming, the Tar Heels routed American 31-3, and defeated Army West Point 22-18.


Although UNC's season ended on Nov. 24, Mack Brown and his coaching staff still succeeded off the field. On Dec. 19, quarterback Sam Howell flipped his commitment from Florida State to North Carolina. Howell, the No. 3 pro-style signal caller in the country, had previously committed to the Seminoles in April, but Brown was able to lure him to Chapel Hill. Howell is expected to compete for the starting job once spring practice begins.

That same day, Brown met with media members to discuss his first three weeks back as UNC's head football coach. 

"If you had asked me three weeks ago if we would have what we have today, I would have been really surprised," Brown said on Dec. 19. "This is much better than I anticipated it being."

Between Brown's official announcement as head coach on Nov. 27 and the press conference on Dec. 19, UNC's recruiting ranking rose from the mid-80s following the de-commitment of several of Larry Fedora's recruits, to No. 36. Today, that ranking stands at No. 39 in the nation, according to 247sports.

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In total, North Carolina has received 19 commitments and Brown has provided fans with optimism heading into spring practice.


@DTHSports |