Keen eye led to key play as UNC tops Mi­ami

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JONATHAN M. ALEXANDER jalexan­[email protected]­sob­

Coby White had just made his fifth con­sec­u­tive 3-pointer when Kenny Wil­liams be­gan to notice some­thing.

Wil­liams, a se­nior guard, saw that Mi­ami had be­gun to dou­ble-team White as he came off screens. At that point, White had 31 points and the Hur­ri­canes had no an­swer for him. The Hur­ri­canes still led the Tar Heels 77-74 with 21 sec­onds left in the game.

So in the hud­dle, Kenny Wil­liams men­tioned to head coach Roy Wil­liams that if Maye set the ball screen for White, Maye might be open for a 3-pointer.

Roy Wil­liams drew up the play for Maye to take the fi­nal shot.

“It was a drib­ble-spin out,” Roy Wil­liams said.

In or­der for the play to work, White would have to read the two de­fend­ers guard­ing he and Maye, as he came off the screen.

“If he was go­ing to come with me, then Luke was def­i­nitely go­ing to be wide open,” White said. “If not, I was go­ing to have to make a play.”

Com­ing out of the timeout, White, a fresh­man guard, said he was ner­vous. He knew they likely only had one chance to tie the game. There would be no mul­li­gans.

But the Tar Heels didn’t need one.

Maye set the screen for White, who saw that Mi­ami guard An­thony Lawrence II, who was ini­tially guard­ing Maye, had stepped out to guard him. And so did Lykes, who Maye had screened. Be­cause Lykes and Lawrence were guard­ing White, that left Maye wide open as he popped out to the 3-point line, just as Kenny Wil­liams had pre­dicted.

White passed to Maye, who shot it, ty­ing the game with 10 sec­onds left. Lykes threw his hands in the air in frus­tra­tion.

“They mis­com­mu­ni­cated, left one of the best shoot­ers in the coun­try open, and he knocked it down,” Kenny Wil­liams said. “And I wasn’t sur­prised at all to see Luke make that shot. He does what he does. He is a big-time player and he al­ways comes through when we need him the most.”

Lykes missed a fi­nal shot and the eighthranked Tar Heels de­feated the Hur­ri­canes in over­time 88-85.

But no Maye’s 3-pointer gave the Tar Heels’ their sev­enth straight win. would. The Tar Heels (19-4, 9-1 ACC) play No. 3 Vir­ginia on Mon­day. Ear­lier in the day, the NCAA Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee re­vealed UNC as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tourna- ment. That is sub­ject to change depend­ing on how the rest of the sea­son goes.

The Tar Heels would have had trou­ble hold­ing that spot had they lost to the Hur­ri­canes (10-13, 2-9) at home.

The Tar Heels will re­main tied atop the ACC stand­ings with a 9-1 start in ACC play, their best start in con­fer­ence play in the Roy Wil­liams era.

The game was back and forth. The Hur­ri­canes out­re­bounded the Tar Heels 39-32, only the third time the Tar Heels have been out­re­bounded in a game. The other two times – against Kentucky on Dec. 22 and Louisville on Jan. 12 – re­sulted in losses. This time, the Tar Heels man­aged to find a way to over­come it.

When they found them­selves down late in the game, the Tar Heels main­tained their com­po­sure and hit tough shots. Es­pe­cially White, who was 7 of 10 from be­hind the 3point line, and 11 of 16 from the floor over­all. The only prob­lem was that the Hur­ri­canes al­most al­ways had an an­swer.

Maye, who fin­ished the game with 20 points and six as­sists, said the team had worked on last-sec­ond shots in Fri­day’s prac­tice.

“I just wanted to do it like I do in prac­tice,” Maye said. “That’s how I’ve al­ways been taught. Coach had con­fi­dence in me and I had con­fi­dence in my­self. My team­mates got me the right spot and Coby made a great pass.”

Maye is no stranger to big shots. As a sopho­more, he hit a game-win­ning jump shot in the Elite 8 against Kentucky in 2017. It was one of the big­gest shots in pro­gram his­tory. The Tar Heels ad­vanced to the Fi­nal Four, and even­tu­ally won the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

“I’ve hit that shot many of times and I just think it’s some­thing that I’m con­fi­dent in do­ing,” Maye said after the game.

The game on Satur­day was the Tar Heels’ first this sea­son that had come down to the wire. It could have eas­ily gone in Mi­ami’s fa­vor. But Maye was con­fi­dent he’d hit the shot.

He knew he’d be open.

ROBERT WILLETT rwil­[email protected]­sob­

With 10 sec­onds left to play, UNC’s Luke Maye launches a three-point shot Satur­day to tie the score and force over­time.

ROBERT WILLETT rwil­[email protected]­sob­

UNC’s Kenny Wil­liams re­acts to call in Satur­day’s game against Mi­ami. Wil­liams’ ob­ser­va­tions about Mi­ami late in the game help set up a game-ty­ing play for UNC.

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