UNC Comes Back To Beat USC 74 - 64
By Rich Keene, Basketball Editor
Late Friday Night, March 23, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - In an incredible come from behind victory in a late night game at the NCAA Tournament Eastern Regionals, the University of North Carolina Tarheels defeated the University of Southern California Trojans by a score of 74-64 in a battle from beginning to end. Both teams came into the game with high hopes, as UNC is ranked number one in the east and USC was ranked number five.
The 10 point margin of victory doesn't reflect how far in the hole UNC was for much of the hard-fought game.
The Heels were down by as many as 16 points before USC started getting in foul trouble and Carolina started shooting much better in the second half to come back against a tough Trojan team.
Coach Williams: Don't Give Up
When the Tarheels were down by so many buckets, some were starting to write off the game for UNC but Coach Roy Williams explained to CBS Sports after the game that he told his players not to give up.
"I told them to keep playing and don't look at the score," said Williams. "It was a fantastic comeback to say the least."
Williams also added that his players were simply not getting the ball in the hole in the first half.
"In the first half, we took bad shots," said Williams, saying that in the second half his team took much better looks.
Among others, Coach Williams credited Marcus Ginyard with his key ten rebounds and ten points with helping the UNC team to get jump-started in the second half.
Brandan Wright was UNC's leading scorer with 21 points in the game. He also had nine rebounds.
Hansbrough Shut Down
Stymied by the USC defense was Tarheel inside man Tyler Hansbrough who was seemingly pushed to the outside of the paint by the Trojans. In the previous game, Hansbrough had scored 22 points but against the Trojans, he posted only five.
The momentum seemed to shift in favor of UNC when Trojan player Nick Young got four fouls and was pulled from the game temporarily. After that, UNC seemed to be able to continue to claw its way back and the Tarheels began to get close to evening the score with around seven minutes remaining in the game.
The Trojans just seemed to run out of gas as Carolina's deep bench stepped up to make a big difference in the game. Also, it was clear that the USC team began to get frustrated as their team saw their 16 point lead evaporate.
By the time there were a couple of minutes left in the game, UNC had the lead and never looked back.
Technical Against USC Coach
Strangely, with 48.5 seconds left and with the score 70-64 in favor of UNC, Trojans Coach Tim Floyd reacted to a foul called against his team by stepping out onto the court and throwing some papers in the air.
A technical was called on Floyd and with UNC sinking both free throws, it pretty much sealed the deal for the Tarheel victory. They went on to win the game at the Continental Arena by a final score of 74 - 64.
For box scores and other game details, visit the CBS Sportsline game page here.
UNC To Play Georgetown
Exactly 25 years ago, UNC won the NCAA national championship with #23 Michael Jordan as the star player. Getting in their way was an equally talented Georgetown team which fell to the Tarheel team, coached by the legendary Dean Smith.
Although Dean Smith and Michael Jordan may be watching the game on TV, plenty of fans on both sides are salivating at the prospect of a historic rematch between the two teams. They'll get their wish on Sunday night March 26th at 5:05pm as the Final Eight survivors duke it out. The teams will play again in East Rutherford, New Jersey with the winner moving on to the Final Four in Atlanta.
The game will be broadcast on national TV on CBS, which is channel 5 WRAL-TV locally in the Triangle area.
UNC Mascot Injured
Sadly, in one tragic note from the game, the UNC student that plays the Ramses mascot during the Carolina basketball games was injured this evening. According to reports on CBS Sports and GoHeels.com, the student was hit by an SUV while walking back to the hotel in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the game.
According to WRAL-TV5, the student has been identified as Jason Ray from Concord, North Carolina and is still listed in critical condition in the hospital. ::