North Carolina 77, Ohio State 73
By Jim O’Connell
NEW YORK ó Deon Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds and No. 6 North Carolina managed to hold on for a 77-73 victory over No. 15 Ohio State in the 2K Sports Classic semifinals on Thursday night.
The Tar Heels (4-0), who led by 19 points with 10:23 to play, will face Syracuse, which beat No. 13 California 95-73, in Friday night’s championship game of the tournament that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams hadn’t been overly pleased with the Tar Heels’ play in their three double-digit victories, including ones over Florida International and North Carolina Central, to advance to New York.
He couldn’t find much to be upset with early against Ohio State (2-1) as the defending national champions ó only one starter returned from the team that beat Michigan State in April ó were in charge for most of the game.
The Buckeyes finally started hitting from the outside at the same time the Tar Heels starting missing free throws, and Ohio State was within 75-73 on a 3 by Jon Diebler with 11 seconds left.
Larry Drew II, who missed four of his previous six free throws in the final minute, then made two from the line with 11 seconds left for the final margin.
Evan Turner, who had a triple-double in Ohio State’s opening win over Alcorn State with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, matched that feat against the Tar Heels but it was a lot different as he finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 turnovers.
The 6-foot-7 junior swingman, who had 17 rebounds in each of the first two games, couldn’t go anywhere on the court without Marcus Ginyard, North Carolina’s defensive specialist who missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Turner’s time was limited as well by foul trouble, and his second personal was an offensive drawn by Ginyard.
Ohio State chipped away at the lead and were finally within single digits when David Lighty scored on a drive that made it 68-60 with 2:09 to go. Ginyard hit a 3 with the shot clock winding down to make it 71-60 with 1:36 to go, but the Buckeyes finally hit from the outside as William Buford and Lighty hit 3s as Drew struggled at the line.
Will Graves had 14 points for North Carolina, and Drew finished with 11 points and eight assists and was 6 of 10 from the line.
Diebler had 17 points for Ohio State, which finished 6 of 21 from 3-point range after going 1 of 10 in the first half.
The Tar Heels had the lead to 10 points within the first 6 minutes, and it reached 16 points three times, the first at 29-13 on a 3-pointer by Ginyard with 5:40 left in the half.
Ohio State missed its first nine 3-point attempts, and the Buckeyes finished 1 of 10 from beyond the arc and shot just 29 percent (9 for 31) overall in falling behind 38-24 at the half.