It was a lopsided win for North Carolina, 82-70, at Conte Forum on Tuesday night. But it was a scary win, too.
Tar Heels reserve P.J. Hairston -- who had 14 early points -- was playing defense with about four minutes left in the first half when he took an elbow to the head during a mid-air collision with teammate Dexter Strickland. Hairston lay on the floor in obvious pain for several moments, being attended to by trainer Chris Hirth and coach Roy Williams, before teammates tried to help him back to the bench. But Hairston appeared woozy and lost his balance after a step or two, and he was eventually taken off the court via stretcher.
Hairston was diagnosed with a concussion. He returned to the end of the bench in the second half for a stretch before returning to the locker room. He was expected to be able to fly home with the team.
Turning point: The Tar Heels were trailing 8-2 when Hairston came off the bench and jump-started 19-4 run that pushed his team ahead, for good. Hairston had four 3-pointers during the stretch. Then, fouled on a 3 with 8:22 left in the first half, he buried two free throws to propel the Tar Heels ahead 29-18.
Standout player(s): Hairston had three assists to go along with 14 points in 12 minutes before his injury, continuing his roughly one-point-per-minute trend over his past few outings. Against Georgia Tech last week, he scored 15 points in 17 minutes; at NC State, he recorded 19 points in 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, teammate James Michael McAdoo finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his third double-double in his past four games.
Freshman Olivier Hanlan led BC with 22 points, tying his career high.
Number(s) to know: The Tar Heels scored 38 points in the 15 minutes, 58 seconds before Hairston left the game, and 44 points in the 24:02 after he was hurt.
What it means for UNC: A bounce back. After falling behind by as many as 28 points in their loss to NC State on Saturday, the Tar Heels were more active from the outset, diving for loose balls, building as much as an 18-point lead, then holding on. They are now 4-3 in ACC play, and pushed their record to 5-5 away from home.
“We feel very fortunate right now, we really do,’’ coach Roy Williams said after the game. “To go 7-for-13 from the 3-point line is good, but P.J. was 4-for-4, so that gives you a good start.”
Williams was also happier with his team’s rebounding; UNC won 33-25 on the boards.
What it means for BC: More learning for a freshman- and sophomore-laden team. Perhaps more frustration, too. It marked the fifth straight ACC loss for the Eagles, although three of its previous defeats during that stretch had been by five or fewer points. But this time, guard Joe Rahon -- averaging 10.4 ppg -- was held to four points; and teammate Lonnie Jackson -- shooting .568 from 3-point land in his previous seven games -- was 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Next up: UNC plays Virginia Tech at home on Saturday; Boston College plays Clemson at home the same day.