COLUMBUS, Ohio — In the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Oh., the No. 1 seed North Carolina men’s basketball team defeated No. 9 seed Washington, 81-59, on Sunday to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in the last five years.
UNC opened the game by grabbing a quick 6-2 advantage. Graduate guard Cameron Johnson scored the game’s first points, following up a Garrison Brooks missed layup to put the Tar Heels on the board. Luke Maye followed that up with a layup thanks to a nice Brooks pass, and Brooks made a jumper inside after a Washington score.
Later, a Coby White 3-pointer over the top of Washington’s zone defense gave the Tar Heels a 15-8 lead. Another White trey on the next possession made that 18-8. Maye led North Carolina in the first half with 13 points on 5-9 shooting, while White pitched in with 12 points, sinking four of five 3-point attempts.
All told, seven Tar Heels got on the board in the first ten minutes of the game: all five starters, plus first-year wing Nassir Little and junior guard Brandon Robinson. At the 7:52 mark, a Nassir Little and-one layup put UNC ahead, 34-20.
Still, the Huskies’ zone defense frustrated the Tar Heels into 10 first half turnovers, leading to 16 points for Washington. Luke Maye’s fadeaway jumper ended a 4:19 cold stretch for the Tar Heels, then Johnson added a 3-pointer to give UNC a 39-29 lead with 2:17 left in the period.
The Huskies scored two more buckets to UNC's one before the halftime buzzer, giving North Carolina an eight-point advantage with 20 minutes of basketball still to play.
To start the second half, eight points from graduating players – five from Johnson, and a 3-pointer from Maye – gave the Tar Heels a 49-36 lead with 16:47 left, prompting a Washington timeout.
The Maye 3-pointer was his first of the game, and the Tar Heels as a team had sank seven of their 15 attempts from deep at that point. A pair of Maye buckets inside and a White free throw made for a 13-3 run to start the second half, giving North Carolina a decisive 54-36 advantage.