Tuesday night was the long awaited season debut of Marcus Paige, and he impressed as the North Carolina Tar Heels took care of business at home against their former ACC rivals, the Maryland Terrapins.
It was a great showdown between two top ranked teams, but for the Terrapins, they really struggled in this one, especially with their 21 turnovers that put them behind the eight ball all night long.
The Tar Heels flew out of the gate scoring the first five points of the game, and Paige even hit his first shot taken of the season, which was a three. It looked like North Carolina was going to run away with this game in the first half as they built up a 13-point lead with 6:30 to go in the first half, but the Terrapins came back and cut it down to just a six point deficit at halftime.
In the second half, the Terrapins came back to tie it up at 67 a piece, but Maryland was never able to take a lead outright and couldn't quite overcome the Tar Heels when it came down to the last few minutes of the game.
The big matchup to watch in this one was between the two point guards in Melo Trimble and the aforementioned Paige and that battle sure was not a let down. Paige finished the game in his first game back with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting along with hitting four 3-pointers. As for Trimble, he posted a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds along with also hitting four 3-pointers.
When it came down to it, when a team turns it over 22 times on the road against a top ten team, it makes it very hard to win and that's exactly what Maryland did Tuesday night at the Dean Dome. Trimble accounted for eight of those turnovers, but it was a complete team failure in that category.
For North Carolina, they had four players in double digits led by Paige who scored a team high 20 points. Brice Johnson chipped in 16 points and six rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting as he contributed a solid game as well for the Tar Heels.
As for Maryland, big man Jake Layman really struggled to get it going, scoring just four points, but it was Rasheed Sulaimon who hit some clutch shots to keep his team in the game. He keyed their comeback along with Trimble in the second half as Sulaimon finished with 18 points.
This was a good measuring stick game for both teams as it could be expected that both Maryland and North Carolina will be contending for a National Championship in March and April.
This game was apart of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and the series is tied at four following the conclusion of Tuesday night's games.
North Carolina will next lace 'em up on Sunday as they welcome in-state rival Davidson to the Dean Dome while Maryland will return home to take on St. Francis (PA) on Friday night.