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.
In the closing minutes, UNC made seven of it’s last 10 shots while Villanova made just two of its final 10 attempts.
Hairston led all scorers with 23 points on five-of-eight from behind the 3-point line. As a team, UNC made 11-of-21 attempts from deep. Villanova, who was 14-1 coming into the game when making at least six 3-pointers, made just four of 21 shots from outside.
McAdoo added 17 points for the Tar Heels and provided UNC with a big physical presence in the final minutes. But he was helped out by Jackson Simmons as the reserve played much of the final seven minutes of the game and clinched the game with a free throw in the final seconds of the game.
JayVaughn Pinkston was the leading scorer for the Wildcats as he had 20 points.
The win gives UNC head coach Roy Williams 700 for his career.
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