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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Rapid Reaction: North Carolina 78, Rutgers 55

By Kieran Darcy

NEW YORK -- A quick take on North Carolina's 78-55 win over Rutgers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

WHAT IT MEANS: Rutgers sees its six-game winning streak snapped, and drops to 9-3 on the season. This was obviously a game Rutgers was not expected to win -- nonetheless, coach Mike Rice and company won't be happy that they were blown out of the Garden.

North Carolina improves to 9-4 on the season.

FROM THE GET-GO: North Carolina ripped off a 12-0 run over a five-minute stretch early in the first half, jumping out to a 14-2 lead -- Rutgers was attempting to climb a mountain the rest of the way. The first half was utter domination -- the Tar Heels led 42-22 at the break. North Carolina shot 17-for-30 from the field (Rutgers was 9-for-30) and doubled up the Scarlet Knights on the boards, 22-11.

MORE OF THE SAME: The closest Rutgers got in the second half was within 15 points, very early on. North Carolina used its bench extensively, yet still increased its lead. The Scarlet Knights continued to expend a lot of energy, but to no avail.

Leslie McDonald led the Tar Heels with 14 points off the bench, connecting on four of his seven 3-point attempts. Jonathan Mitchell had 20 points for the Scarlet Knights -- no other player had more than eight.

TALENT GAP: To put it bluntly, North Carolina was more talented at every position on the floor. At best, a couple Rutgers players might get a few minutes off the bench for the Tar Heels. But with the tenacious defense the Scarlet Knights have been playing under Rice, you thought they might be able to at least hang with the Tar Heels. Alas, that was not to be.

WHAT'S NEXT: It only gets tougher for Rutgers -- its next game is at No. 8 Villanova on Sunday, its first Big East game of the season. North Carolina returns home to face St. Francis (PA) on Sunday, before opening ACC play.