North Carolina sur­vives to beat Ar­kan­sas 72-65

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS -

Kennedy Meeks had 16 points and a huge tip-in with 44.2 sec­onds left to help North Carolina barely avoid a huge up­set by ral­ly­ing to beat Ar­kan­sas 72-65 in Sun­day’s sec­ond round of the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

Justin Jack­son added 15 points for the Tar Heels (29-7), in­clud­ing the dunk that capped a game-clos­ing 12-0 run by the South Re­gion’s No. 1 seed to help it sur­vive a wild game. North Carolina led by 17 points after a dom­i­nat­ing start, blew that lead and trailed 6560 with about 3 1/2 min­utes left then came up with a re­sponse be­fit­ting its vet­eran ex­pe­ri­ence.

Isa­iah Hicks came up big late, too, with a dunk and four free throws in the fi­nal 2 min­utes to help UNC sur­vive.

Daryl Ma­con scored 19 points to lead the eighth-seeded Ra­zor­backs (26-10), who did ev­ery­thing right in the sec­ond half — except close out the Tar Heels.

The Ra­zor­backs had UNC wob­bling with their ag­gres­sive, mis­take-forc­ing de­fense ha­rass­ing the Tar Heels all over the court. And when Jaylen Bar­ford scored in tran­si­tion off a turnover, Ar­kan­sas led 65-60 with 3:28 left.

But the Tar Heels — loaded with re­turnees from a team that played in last year’s na­tional cham­pi­onship game — re­sponded in a huge way.

Joel Berry II hit two free throws with 2:56 left, Jack­son found Hicks for a dunk, then Hicks hit two free throws after be­ing fouled on a re­bound to put UNC up 66-65 with 1:44 left.

S. Carolina up­sets Duke 88-81

Sin­dar­ius Thorn­well had 24 points, Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the sec­ond half and sev­enth-seeded South Carolina stunned No. 2 seed Duke 88-81 on Sun­day night to ad­vance to its first Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tour­na­ment’s ex­panded bracket.

The Game­cocks (24-10) trailed by 10 points early in the sec­ond half after one of its cold­est shoot­ing stretches of the sea­son to start.

But be­hind Thorn­well’s out­side shoot­ing and Silva’s dom­i­nance un­der­neath, South Carolina ral­lied to win two NCAA games for the first time in 44 years.

The Game­cocks rushed to their fans when things were over, cel­e­brat­ing one of the big­gest wins in pro­gram his­tory.

Next up is the East Re­gional at Madi­son Square Gar­den where the Game­cocks will face third-seeded Bay­lor, an 82-78 win­ner over South­ern Cal ear­lier Sun­day.

Duke (28-9) was at­tempt­ing to reach the round of 16 for the sixth time in eight seasons. The Blue Devils, though, could not sur­mount South Carolina’s sti­fling de­fense. Lead­ing scorer Luke Ken­nard had his sec­ond straight sub­par shoot­ing game, fin­ish­ing 1 of 6 for 11 points be­fore foul­ing out.

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