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Boston College beats reeling North Carolina 71-67

Boston College's Corey Raji, left, tries to get control of the rebound in front of North Carolina's Leslie McDonald in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Boston. Boston College's Corey Raji, left, tries to get control of the rebound in front of North Carolina's Leslie McDonald in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
February 20, 2010

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BOSTON—Boston College slowed down an already reeling North Carolina team even more.

Reggie Jackson, making his first start of the season at point guard Saturday, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to lift the Eagles to a 71-67 win over the struggling Tar Heels.

Jackson said Boston College focused all week on controlling North Carolina's fast-break offense.

"We know they want to get out and run. That was our main focus," said Jackson, who started in place of Biko Paris. "If we would have stopped that at the beginning we probably would have been up 10 at the half."

Corey Raji had 16 points and Rakim Sanders added 14 for BC (13-13, 4-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won for the second time in six games.

Deon Thompson paced North Carolina (14-13, 3-9) with 17 points and nine rebounds. The Tar Heels, who shot 39 percent, lost their ninth in 11 games. It is the Tar Heels' worst stretch since losing 11 of 12 in 2001-02.

"It's a frustrating time for us, the most frustrating time I've ever had in coaching, there's no question about that," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "Some way, somehow we gotta keep trying to do the best we can do."

BC was clinging to a 65-52 lead after the Tar Heels closed a 10-point lead, but Evan Ravenel had a put-back jam off Jackson's miss with 1:52 left.

"I just followed the ball," said Ravenel, who provided a spark off the bench to tie his career-high with eight points.

Sanders scored off a drive after Larry Drew II's three-point play, making the score 69-65 with just over a minute left. Jackson nailed two free throws with 31 seconds remaining to seal it.

John Henson had 11 points and Marcus Ginyard 10 for North Carolina.

Tar Heels center Tyler Zeller returned after missing 10 games with a stress fracture of his right foot. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

North Carolina opened the second half by scoring 10 of the first 12 points, pulling ahead 46-39 on Thompson's two free throws with 17:45 left, but the Eagles responded with 10 straight points.

Jackson keyed the spree with a long 3-pointer and an alley-oop dunk.

"(Jackson) killed us all day. That kinda summed up the whole day, what he did," Henson said. "I don't know if we lost our pose but, like our season's been going, they made plays."

BC controlled the Tar Heels' fast-break offense and built its lead to 63-53 on Sanders' one-hander in the lane with 7:28 to play.

"We've been struggling all year long on what we need to do. I think we finally settled in," BC coach Al Skinner said. "I'm not going to say the switch cured that. It was just an understanding for the whole team. I'm not going to say it was Reggie for Biko. It might have looked like that."

But the Tar Heels scored the next seven points, closing the gap to 63-60 on Thompson's short jumper with just under 5 minutes left.

BC led 37-36 at halftime.

North Carolina, which shot just 38 percent in the first half, use strong offensive rebounding and easy transition baskets to keep the game close.

"We feel like we can win the ACC tournament and, sorry to say it, upset some other teams watching when the tournament comes out," Jackson said.

The Tar Heels were left wondering.

"I thought we were going to win today and get on a great run and we be in the NCAA Tournament," Williams said. "Now I gotta readjust and see if we can get it done by starting on Wednesday night."