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NCAA Tournament: UNC Notebook

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
The UNC notebook …
CHARLOTTE ó The end result of reserve Alex Stepheson’s emphatic block was a rocky top for one Tennessee student.
Stepheson had four points, five rebounds and three blocks in North Carolina’s 68-47 win against Washington State on Thursday night.
He made one free throw with 12:37 left and converted a three-point play 52 seconds later to give the Tar Heels a 20-point lead. The offensive contributions followed a stretch of disruptive defense.
Stepheson rejected a layup by Washington State guard Kyle Weaver, and the Cougars regained possession after a UNC turnover. Weaver raced in from the right wing and attempted another layup, but Stepheson swatted the shot into the crowd. The ball bounced off a Tennessee band member’s head.
“I was able to slip into position to protect the basket,” Stepheson said. “I was there at the right time and right place to get the block.”

TY’S TURN: Washington State’s Taylor Rochestie intercepted a pass from UNC point guard Ty Lawson with 9:03 left in the first half, ending a personal streak of nearly 102 minutes without a turnover. The Tar Heels scored 259 points in that stretch, which dated back to the second half of a win against Clemson in the ACC Tournament final.
Lawson, a sophomore, played 26 minutes against Washington State and didn’t record an assist for just the third time in his career. In the other two cases, an injury forced him to leave the game in the opening minutes. He played two minutes against BYU in November and four minutes against Florida State in February.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Tar Heels improved to 5-0 at Bobcats Arena this season, and they are 8-0 in NCAA tournament games played in Charlotte. … UNC (35-2) set a school record for single-season wins. It had 34 victories in 1993 and 1998. … Head coach Roy Williams moved into sole possession of third place with 48 wins in the NCAA tournament. Former UNC coach Dean Smith is second on the list with 65, and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has 69. … The 21-point margin of victory was the largest for UNC in a regional semifinal since it beat Eastern Michigan by 26 in 1991. … Tyler Hansbrough, who has 2,123 career points, is the highest-scoring junior in ACC history. He passed former Georgia Tech star Dennis Scott, who had 2,115 points in his first three seasons.

Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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