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COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Roy Williams laughs at the notion that he purposely planned to have North Carolina playing its best basketball at the end of the season.

"I don't know how to make my team peak, and neither does anybody else," Williams said Wednesday night after UNC coasted past Maryland 79-68. "I'm not smarter than the other guy. If I knew how to make my team peak, then so would they."

Maybe so, but UNC has now won a season-high six straight as it prepares to face Duke on Saturday.

After losing their first two ACC games, the Tar Heels have bounced back in impressive fashion. They have clinched a first-round bye for the ACC Tournament and could climb into a tie for second place with a victory against Duke.

"They should feel very good about what they've done, and hopefully they have a lot of games to play," Williams said.

P.J. Hairston scored 22 points, Reggie Bullock had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and UNC (22-8, 12-5) never trailed after closing the first half with a 10-0 run to go up 34-27.

"I'm really proud of them," Williams said. "I've brought some really good teams in here. We won a national championship in '09, but we didn't win here. I really liked the way our kids competed."

Much has been said about the Tar Heels' small lineup, but in this game, the 6-7 Bullock and 6-5 Hairston were the difference.

"We're having fun out there with the small lineup," Bullock said. "Having P.J. in the lineup, he's like my brother. He puts a smile on my face, and we feed off each other.

"We're getting better every game. Everybody is sharing the ball up front, and we're talking on defense. We just have to keep doing that."

James Michael McAdoo scored 10 for the Tar Heels, who went 10 for 24 on 3-point shots and outscored the Terrapins 19-11 at the foul line. North Carolina hasn't lost since Feb. 13 at Duke.

Dez Wells led Maryland (20-10, 8-9) with 18 points, and Nick Faust had 16, but the Terps missed 20 of 23 shots from 3-point range.

"I'm disappointed," Coach Mark Turgeon said. "I liked the energy we started the game with. That said, we couldn't make a shot. Had some really good looks, especially early."

After a ceremony honoring Maryland seniors James Padgett and Logan Aronhalt before their final home game, a sellout crowd watched the Tar Heels make five of their first six shots - one basket by each starter - in taking a 12-4 lead.

Faust then scored five points in a 10-1 run that put Maryland in front for the first time.

After UNC peeled off seven straight points, Maryland did the same. Two straight layups by Faust put Maryland ahead 27-24 with 3:24 left in the half, but UNC closed with a 10-point blitz run that included 3-pointers by Hairston and Paige.

In the second half, North Carolina led 36-29 before Bullock made a 3-pointer to start a 13-4 run that made it 49-33 with 12:47 left.

After Maryland closed to 51-42, Hairston made a layup and Bullock made a 3-pointer for a 12-point cushion with 9:31 to go. It was 61-46 before the Terrapins used a 9-2 spurt to close to 63-57, but a 3-pointer by Marcus Paige and a three-point play by McAdoo short-circuited the comeback.

"It's easy to come back," Turgeon said. "But to come back and win is different."