Tar Heels Too Much for Waves

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Times Staff Writer

Big-time basketball came to Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu Tuesday night, but Pepperdine couldn’t keep up with sixth-ranked North Carolina--until it was far too late.

The Waves, playing the first half as if they were in awe of Coach Dean Smith’s team, caught the Tar Heels at the top of their game and lost, 102-80, before 3,423 fans.

Pepperdine (8-6) missed one open shot after another while North Carolina (12-1) rolled to a 55-31 halftime lead.


Smith said he didn’t “expect anything like (Pepperdine’s poor start). But it was a pleasant surprise to lead by 20-something at the half.”

But the Waves came out firing--and making--3-pointers at the start of the second half, outscored North Carolina, 13-2 in the first 4 minutes and cut the lead to 57-44.

In the first 6 1/2 minutes of the half, Tom Lewis hit 3 3-point shots, Craig Davis had another 3-pointer, and Casey Crawford got 2 tip-ins. Suddenly it looked like a game.

“We haven’t had anybody make as many 3-pointers against us as they did,” Smith said after the Waves finished with 12 3-pointers.

But North Carolina, after committing a rash of turnovers at the start of the half, recovered and took control again.

The Tar Heels, playing what Smith said was one of their better games of the season, shot 57% in the first half (21 for 37) and got sharper in the second half, hitting 75% of their shots (18 for 24).


Kevin Madden had a team-high 19 points for North Carolina and guard Jeff Lebo, who had 12 points and ran the offense well.

Center J.R. Reid, playing in only his fourth game since foot surgery Oct. 29, seemed nearly back to his All-American self. In 28 minutes, Reid scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 4 of 4 from the foul line.

Craig Davis led Pepperdine with 16 points, including 4 3-pointers, and Lewis had 15 points.

Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said his players probably were “a little bit nervous, playing a team of that magnitude.

“We preach patience, but the way they execute their trap (defense) makes you impatient.”