NCAA Tournament: North Carolina pushed correct buttons
By J.P. Giglio
Raleigh News and Observer
If North Carolina wins the national title, Roy Williams should send LSU a thank-you card.
UNC got exactly what it needed Saturday ó a push in its second-round NCAA tournament win over the Tigers.
In its run to the Final Four last year, UNC never trailed in the second half, beating Mount St. Mary’s by 39, Arkansas by 31, Washington State by 21 and Louisville by 10 before Kansas pushed the Tar Heels right out of San Antonio.
The Heels weren’t quite resolute enough to shove Kansas back. Saturday, basically the same group of players showed fight they didn’t have in tournament exits to Georgetown in 2007 or Kansas in 2008.
UNC trailed eighth-seeded LSU 54-49 with 12:25 left in the second half. That’s when guards Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson would not let the Tar Heels go home.
Remember, Ellington and Lawson went a combined 2-for-11 from 3-point range in the 84-66 loss to Kansas. They were 5-for-9 from beyond the arc Saturday.
More important was when the points came. Ellington scored five of UNC’s next seven points ó he set up Ed Davis for a dunk on the other basket ó after it fell behind by five. Thirteen of Lawson’s 23 points came after the same juncture.
When push came to shove, Ellington and Lawson passed their first test Saturday.