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Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 11:34 PM EST
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(4) North Carolina 85, Virginia 61

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Sean May, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton made sure there would be no letdown.

The junior stars combined for 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the first half as fourth-ranked North Carolina took command early and coasted to its 15th straight home victory, an 85-61 Atlantic Coast Conference victory against Virginia.

The Tar Heels, coming off two tough road games against Duke and Connecticut, pounded the Cavaliers, 110-76, two weeks ago and were prime for a letdown, especially with freshman forward Marvin Williams out with a sprained left toe.

In recent weeks, Virginia coach Pete Gillen has decided to play a slow-down style, electing to work time off the shot clock, rather than playing at his accustomed up-tempo pace. The results were three straight wins until this one.

"To go out there and go against the spread (offense), a very confident Virginia team that has won three in a row, a different style and without Marvin (Williams) ... I feel very good," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "But I told Pete I think that was a great game plan. I told our team that I thought this would be good for us because we've got to be able to play against different styles."

North Carolina (21-3, 9-2 ACC) broke open the game late in the first half with a 14-0 run. May scored six points, Felton hit a 3-pointer and McCants capped the four-minute spurt with a jumper and a 3-pointer that gave the Tar Heels a 38-20 lead with 76 seconds left.

The defense also did its part, holding Virginia (13-10, 4-8) to 30 percent (8-of-27) shooting and forcing nine turnovers as North Carolina forged a 39-24 lead at the half.

McCants scored three quick baskets in the second half and Jackie Manuel's layup pushed the margin to 52-33 with 15 minutes remaining. The Cavaliers didn't get any closer than 13 thereafter and the Tar Heels led by as many as 26 late in the game.

McCants, who hadn't scored 20 points in any of his last six outings, finished with 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and tied his season high with six assists.

"I was happy to see Rashad make a bunch of shots," Williams said. "I never lost confidence in him for one second."

May had 17 and 16 rebounds and is averaging 15.4 points and 12.3 rebounds over his last 10 games.

"Seventeen points and 16 rebounds, I don't usually politick, but I was surprised when somebody told me today that we have not had a player of the week in the ACC a single time," Williams said. "I thought after Sean had 31 rebounds (against Duke and Connecticut) in two games that would at least deserve something."

Felton finished with 12 points for North Carolina, which shot 54 percent (31-of-57) and moved within 1/2 game of conference leader Wake Forest.

"To shoot 54 (percent) and hold them to only 38 (percent) and do the job on the backboards and to be willing to play defense for 30-35 seconds is what I was pleased with," Williams said.

Gary Forbes scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Cavaliers, who were outrebounded, 38-26.

© 2005 STATS, Inc