NEW YORK — Roy Williams said he’s spent much of this season chewing out sophomore point Larry Drew II.
Whatever he’s saying, it seems to be working.
When Ohio State made a late-game run, Drew was put on the spot again and again — and he answered just enough times to push UNC to a win.
With about six minutes to play, the Buckeyes brought the score to within 11. Drew drained a three to extend UNC’s lead to 14.
And with just less than two minutes remaining, Drew found Marcus Ginyard for another three-pointer to keep UNC’s nose in front when OSU had closed the gap to eight.
“To win games you have to be very tough mentally and physically, and I thought we were tonight,” Williams said.
Nobody epitomized that statement more than Drew in the game’s final seconds.
With Ohio State closing in at 75-73, Drew was fouled and stepped to the line — having already missed a series of late-game free throws that could have iced the game and earned his fourth foul minutes before.
But Drew drained his last two free throws to give UNC the necessary margin, in front of a national television audience and under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
“I was pretty relieved,” Drew said. “It was a hard-fought win for us. They did a good job coming back. I think guys got a little content with the lead.”
Most of Drew’s night before the final seconds was spent dueling OSU’s junior point guard Evan Turner — a preseason All-America candidate.
Late in the first half, the much taller and more experienced Turner had Drew posted up. Turner could back Drew down and score or rebound at will.
But Drew drew a bump from Turner and took a dive — drawing an offensive foul and a turnover. Turner could only stalk away in frustration.
Despite his accolades, it was Turner who looked unseasoned for all but the final two minutes Thursday night, while Drew played the part of a seasoned veteran for much of the game.
For the game, Drew had 11 points and eight assists — a career high. He was 6-for-10 from the foul line, and 1-for-1 from beyond the arc.
It was just enough.
Drew was a big part of a Tar Heel defense that hampered and harassed Turner all night, as OSU’s junior scoring leader had 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting but turned the ball over a whopping 10 times.
At the half, Drew had five assists and just two turnovers, while Turner had no assists and five turnovers.
While Drew was finding open teammates, Turner was struggling to find his own shot.
And on Thursday, Drew’s play was just enough.
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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