North Carolina edges upset-minded Arkansas despite poor shooting performance
Mar 21 2017 by Irving Hamilton
Trailing 65-60 with less than three minutes to play, it was that group of veterans that orchestrated a 12-0 run that could alter Carolina basketball history with the Tar Heels the favored to bring home their seventh national championship.
The Jackets (12-6, 2-4 ACC) step out of conference play for a midweek contest at home versus the Auburn Tigers on Tuesday night, March 21, at 6 p.m. ET.
North Carolina's redemption tour nearly came to a halt Sunday at the hands of Arkansas. Arkansas was trying to make the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1996.
It easily could have been, though, and would have been if not for the Tar Heels' improbable 12-0 run to end the game - a run defined by defense and UNC's calm knack for making free throws amid the most pressurized of postseason environments. "We always want to be in attack mode, and we want to be able to get up a lot of shots and have a high-possession game and I think that's how it will be tomorrow". North Carolina came up with 18 offensive rebounds, and Kennedy Meeks was a huge part of that. Arkansas junior guard Daryl Macon (19 points).
Thomas, 13 points and a blocked shot, played his best game since transferring to the Razorbacks from Colorado while Barford scored 20 with seven boards and four steals and Hannahs scored 14. "We got really lucky". No charge was called, no travel was called - even though both occurred - and Meeks grabbed the rebound and put it up and in for a 3-point UNC lead.
While Carolina showed it could grind out a tough 72-65 win against a Razorback team known for wearing out its opponents in the second half, it advances to the second weekend with plenty of question marks. Joel Berry II hit two free throws with 2:56 left, Jackson found Hicks for a dunk, then Hicks hit two free throws after being fouled on a rebound to put UNC up 66-65 with 1:44 left.
"When it's that close of a game and you're up, the only thing you can do is stay poised and try to milk the lead", said freshman forward Adrio Bailey. It was the no-call of the game.
"We came to dance", coach Mike Anderson said.
The Jackets got out of trouble in the seventh to keep the score at 4-3, but had no such luck in the eighth as the Tar Heels had a lead-off double and then took advantage of a Tech throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt to tie the game up at 4-4.
Second-team All-ACCer Joel Berry shot 2-of-13 from the floor and 2-of-8 from 3-point range, continuing his recent shooting struggles.
Stick with Keeping It Heel for complete coverage of the Tar Heels' Sweet 16 matchup with the Bulldogs and continued coverage of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Coach Roy Williams listed him as questionable heading into the second round, and Berry received treatment instead of partaking in practice on Saturday. "But that's how the game goes". In 1990, Arkansas defeated North Carolina 96-73 in a third-round game on its way to the Final Four.
"There were certain plays that were kind of lining up that kept on breaking us a little bit", guard Justin Jackson said.
Berry, who was questionable for the game after turning his right ankle against Texas Southern, logged 34 minutes, five more than his season average, despite experiencing soreness late in the game after his medication wore off.