KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, the North Carolina men’s basketball team blew a 20-point lead, but in the end the Tar Heels held on to beat Villanova 78-71.
North Carolina will play the winner of the Kansas-Western Kentucky game Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats (20-14) capitalized on the momentum they started building late in the first half to tie up the game and take the lead early in the second half.
North Carolina (25-10) started the game on a 32-12 run but the Wildcats responded with a 28-8 run to tie the score at 40. The North Carolina defense befuddled the Wildcats in the first half but Jay Wright’s Villanova’s squad returned the favor in the second half to and forced UNC into seven second half turnovers.
But down the stretch the Tar Heels regained the rhythm that helped them out to the early lead. With about four minutes left in the game, P.J. Hairston made a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a 3-pointer from Reggie Bullock to help UNC distance themselves from Villanova.