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Heels Seek Revenge Against Kansas After 2012 Elite Eight

By WCHL News Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm
KANSAS CITY-The eighth-seeded UNC men’s basketball team is coming off a big win Friday evening against Villanova in the NCAA’s tournament—but on Sunday evening, they’ll have to take on No. 1 seeded Kansas in Kansas City, which might prove a much taller task.
Still, head UNC coach Roy Williams, who once coached at Kansas and hit his 700th career win on Friday, says the milestone was even more special because it happened on old stomping grounds.

“When something like that happens, you usually like to have it happen at home, so your family and friends can be there,” he says. “But, if I were to choose another place, this is a fantastic one, because it was 15 great years of my life in this area.”

During last year’s Elite Eight, Kansas ousted the Heels, who were hurt by the injury absence of former star point guard Kendall Marshall. This year, the Jayhawks haven’t showed many signs of slowing down; they took the Big 12 Conference Championship and sit at an impressive record of 30-5 overall—but one of those losses came to Oklahoma, who only managed a no. 10 seed for the NCAA tournament, and two others came to Baylor andTCU, who were both left without invitations to the Big Dance.

Jayhawk senior center Jeff Withey was ranked third nationally in blocks for the regular season, with an average of almost four per game—meanwhile, no current Tar Heel player on the roster averaged even one. Withey tallied seven blocks on Friday night against Western Kentucky, and he also led the Jahawks in scoring with 17 points.

But overall, Kansas looked sloppy as they took on the Hilltoppers, narrowly escaping becoming the first No. 1 seeded team in NCAA tournament history to fall to a No. 16 seed. The Jayhawks trailed by one point at the half , didn’t manage to make a single shot from three point range during the entire game, tallied 17 turnovers to Western Kentucky’s 10, and hit just four offensive rebounds to the Hilltoppers’ 18.
All year long, the Tar Heels have been noted for their strength behind the three-point line, especially from junior guard Reggie Bullock and sophomore guard P.J. Hairston. But Kansas has a comparable force in freshman guard Ben McLemore, who’s averaging 43 percent from beyond the arc and 16 points per game overall.

And while the Heels hit a solid 11-21 from beyond the arc against Villanova, they also hit several rough patches in the process.

“When they started pressuring us, we got the ball and attacked it instead of letting it attack us,” says Hairston. “We got some wide-open shots, and then we were in our motion offense. I felt like we moved a lot better, set screens for shooters, and opened up driving lanes for Dexter [Strickland] and Marcus [Paige], which got me and Reggie some easy kick-outs and wide-open three’s.”

Tipoff between the Heels and the Jayhawks is set for 5:15 Eastern Time on Sunday evening. WCHL’s pregame coverage will begin at 3:00 with Countdown To Tipoff, presented by Harrington Bank and hosted by Aaron Keck.
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