November 21, 2014

After making an immediate impact in his return, Marcus Paige will try to keep North Carolina from experiencing a letdown against a high-powered unbeaten team.

The ninth-ranked Tar Heels will also seek to build on their most high-profile victory Sunday night versus Davidson.

Paige showed little hesitancy in his first game back from a broken bone in his right hand and led North Carolina to an 89-81 win over No. 2 Maryland on Tuesday. The ACC's co-preseason player of the year scored a team-best 20 points while making 4 of 5 from 3-point range and had five assists.

"I felt good and I wanted to set the tone with some energy and play hard because I know that is one of the things we have been talking about," Paige said.

With Paige back in the lineup, the Tar Heels (6-1) shot a season-best 53.2 percent and went 9 of 13 from beyond the arc. They also forced a season-high 22 turnovers with Justin Jackson registering a career-best five steals.

"We did some things defensively that we haven't done all year long. Our intensity level was higher and better and more consistent than it was all year long," coach Roy Williams said.

That defense could get a test from one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation, but Davidson (5-0) hasn't faced an opponent anywhere near North Carolina's level while averaging 88.2 points in its best start since 1968-69.

The Wildcats had easily their best offensive performance of the season Tuesday in a 109-74 rout of Charlotte. Jack Gibbs led the way with 41 points on 14-of-17 shooting and went 6 of 7 on 3-pointers with program legend Stephen Curry in attendance.

Gibbs, averaging 26.0 points on 55.4 percent shooting, had Davidson's highest-scoring game since Curry had 43 points against Appalachian State on March 7, 2009.

"We ran our offense really well today and it was the first time we let go and had fun. I definitely benefited from that," Gibbs said.

Brian Sullivan had 23 points for the second straight game, a span in which he's 11 of 17 from 3-point range.

Gibbs and Sullivan each missed eight of 10 shots and went a combined 1 for 11 from 3-point range in a 90-72 loss to No. 6 North Carolina on Nov. 22, 2014. Peyton Aldridge, averaging 18.0 points this season, had a career-best 25 for the Wildcats.

Kennedy Meeks led the Tar Heels with 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds in their sixth consecutive win in the series. Jackson had 18 points while making seven of 10 shots and helped make up for a subpar performance from Paige, who had 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

North Carolina needed overtime for a 97-85 win in the most recent matchup in Chapel Hill on Dec. 21, 2013. Paige had 17 points despite missing eight of 12 shots and Meeks scored 13 on 6-of-6 shooting. Sullivan had a career-high 33 points and made seven 3-pointers on 14 attempts.

North Carolina has been ranked for each of the last five meetings.

Davidson has lost 22 of 24 against Top 25 opponents but ended a 13-game losing streak in those matchups in the last one, defeating No. 20 Dayton 77-60 on Jan. 20.

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