With the win, Carolina is now 24-9 on the season and improved to 110-42 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels in scoring with 19 points, the 13th time this season he has led the Tar Heels in scoring.
Crucially, UNC bagged 21 offensive rebounds Friday night, its highest production on the offensive glass since grabbing 22 against NC State on Feb. 1.
Ironically for the Tar Heels, James Michael McAdoo, who has struggled mightily all year with free throws, was sent to the foul line in the waning seconds with the game hanging in the balance.
The junior made a pair of them to seal the victory for the Tar Heels and with it, preserve Head Coach Roy Williams’ unbeaten streak in NCAA Tournament opening games.
In addition, the win was Coach Williams’ 724th of his career, tying him with DePaul’s Ray Meyer for 19th place in NCAA history. Coach Williams is now 724-189 in 26 seasons, including 306-88 at North Carolina.
Coach Williams said he was proud of his team’s toughness and resiliency to come back after giving up the lead late.
***Listen to the postgame remarks***
Kennedy Meeks recorded 12 points and five rebounds to aid the Carolina cause. He was 6 for 8 from the floor. It was his first scoring game in double figures since he had 15 against Wake Forest six games ago on Feb. 22.
When leading at the half this season, Carolina is a perfect 18-0.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a Round of 32 matchup against hot-shooting Iowa State, winners over N.C. Central Friday night. The Tar Heels and Cyclones will square off Sunday in San Antonio with a spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen on the line.
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