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North Carolina foils Kentucky with late shot for 20th Final Four berth

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Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

At stake is a spot in the Elite Eight and chance to earn a berth in the Final Four. The Tar Heels led 38-33 at halftime. The first 3 pointer occurred 15 seconds after Justin Jacksons 3 pointer with 1:37 remaining finished a 7-0 UNC run to move from down 4 to up 3 with only 97 seconds left in the game.

Get this: North Carolina has two representatives of the rarest species in college basketball - former McDonald's all-Americans who are playing their fourth and final season of college basketball.

The game was back-and-forth throughout and displayed some of the best basketball of the tournament.

Joel Berry II was able to return from spraining his other ankle early on for 13 points, including two three-pointers.

Years from now - heck, hours from now - folks will note this game's stats and wonder how it was ever close.

The 25 minutes he played against Butler support that notion. Fox tallied a career-high 39 points in the Wildcats' 86-75 win over UCLA Friday night to send the Wildcats into the regional finale. It only came to that because Florida coach Mike White chose to nurse a late double-digit lead by trying to run clock instead of continuing to attack. "With a team like that and any team in the tournament, you just can't have that". Arkansas was a bad match-up for them because of the tenacious defense it played Sunday.

Adjust those point spreads for a neutral floor, and this number makes sense. No. 7 South Carolina: With all the disgrace the Baylor football program has brought to this school, it is unbelievable Scott Drew continues to bring in such talented basketball players.

No. 3 Baylor vs. The next, the Tar Heels were moving on to the Final Four.

The time was when North Carolina consistently had better players with sharper recruiting resumes than the Wildcats. It was his sixth double-figure scoring game in 66 career games at North Carolina, and the last two points were the ones that a killed a John Calipari team loaded with star power. When it did, Kentucky's Malik Monk - whose two 3-pointers in the frantic final seconds forged an improbable tie - did the darnedest thing. He's likely to be matched up with Monk at the start on Sunday. Kentucky fans howled in disgust when North Carolina's Stilman White bowled Fox over while dribbling in transition, only for a foul to be called on Fox. Maybe a little unusual, but the Tar Heels will be focused on the opponent in front of them. It was unthinkable that a game featuring talents on the order Jackson and Fox and Monk had become a duel of jump shots between Maye (17 points) and Humphries (12), but there it was. Denying him the ball leaves open lanes for Fox; collapsing on Fox leaves Monk wide open.

Out of halftime, United Kingdom went on a 6-0 run to give the team its first lead of the game at 39-38. North Carolina would prefer a much faster pace. The Tar Heels are never going to have a lapse where they fail to rebound. Also in double-figures for North Carolina are Kennedy Meeks (12.7 PPG; 9.1 RPG) and Isaiah Hicks (12.4 PPG; 5.7 RPG). For years, folks in both the state of North Carolina and the commonwealth of Kentucky discussed moving the Wildcats to the ACC in some sort of football for basketball deal (Clemson was the trade bait). Kentucky has the better players.

You better believe head coach Roy Williams and his team are ready to for a rematch. Of Lepore's 87 pitches in the game, only 44 went for strikes.

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