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Jan 11, 2003

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AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Todd Billet scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half, and Virginia withstood two second-half runs to beat North Carolina for the fourth straight time, 79-72 Saturday.

Billet hit two of his six 3-pointers during the big run in which the Cavaliers (10-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coact Conference) opened a 20-point lead. He added another basket during a crucial 8-0 run in the second half.

North Carolina (9-5, 1-1) used a 14-3 burst to begin the second half to close within seven at 51-44, then cut its deficit to 75-69 on two free throws by Jawad Williams with 2:35 left. Virginia had turnovers on its next two possessions, but the Tar Heels couldn’t cash in either time.

Devin Smith’s two free throws with 29.4 seconds left clinched it.

Travis Watson added 18 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia, and Elton Brown and Keith Jenifer each scored 10. Jenifer also had six assists.

Williams led North Carolina with 18 points, but had only seven in the second half. Rashad McCants had 12 of his 16 points after the break.

After the Tar Heels’ fast second-half start quieted the sellout crowd, Watson scored inside, Jenifer hit a 15-footer, Jason Clark scored inside and Billet added a jumper to boost the lead back to 59-44.

North Carolina, which tried 18 3-pointers in the first half, rallied again by attacking the basket, and used two free throws by Williams with 2:35 left to get within six. But Virginia cut off the inside and held on, beating the Tar Heels for the sixth time in seven meetings.

The game also marked the return of Virginia guard Majestic Mapp, who had missed 70 games and had four surgeries to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee following the 1999-2000 season.

Mapp entered the game with 7:23 left in the first half to rousing applause from the sellout crowd and missed his only shot, a 3-pointer.

He did not play in the second half.

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