UNC, Kansas survive scares to set up Williams’ reunion

Top-seeded North Carolina and No. 2-seeded Kansas survived scares in the Midwest Regional semifinals Friday night to set up an intriguing Elite 8 matchup between coach Roy Williams’ Tar Heels and his former team, the Jayhawks, on Sunday.

Kansas defeated North Carolina State 60-57 to advance, while the Tar Heels had to go to overtime to get past a pesky Ohio squad 73-65.

North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller scored 20 points and pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds, and the top-seeded Tar Heels survived a serious scare from No. 13 seed Ohio in a Midwest Regional semifinal in St. Louis.

The Bobcats (29-8) had a difficult time dealing with North Carolina’s size advantage inside – the Tar Heels held a 26-14 rebounding edge in the first half and finished with a 55-27 edge on the boards – but they neutralized the mismatch with red-hot outside shooting and forced overtime.

Ohio made 12 3-pointers, including six from Walter Offutt, who scored a game-high 26 points.

Zeller had a double-double before the end of the first half and became the first player with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in an NCAA tournament game since Tim Duncan did it for Wake Forest in 1997.

The Tar Heels (32-5) were without one of their stars in point guard Kendall Marshall, who broke his wrist in North Carolina’s previous game against Creighton.

Making matters worse, another of their stars did little to contribute, as Harrison Barnes went 3 for 16 from the field.

Reggie Bullock picked up much of the slack with 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for North Carolina.

The Tar Heels led by as many as 15 early, but Ohio surged to get within 29-22 at halftime despite shooting 23 percent in the first half.

The Jayhawks also had to hold off a furious comeback big by the Wolfpack. National player of the year finalist Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Jeff Withey added a career-high 10 blocks, including one that denied a go-ahead basket in the final minute.

The Jayhawks (30-6) seemed to have the game in hand, leading by eight with 3:48 left before the Wolfpack (24-13) reeled off seven straight points.

C.J. Leslie, who led the 11th-seeded Wolfpack with 18 points, drove in for a layup that would have given N.C. State its first lead since a 33-32 halftime advantage, but Withey swatted his shot away to preserve the lead.

Tyshawn Taylor missed the front end of a one-and-one with 16.1 seconds left and Kansas leading 58-57, but the rebound went out of bounds off the Wolfpack.

Elijah Johnson scored off an inbounds pass from Taylor to extend the lead to three.

The Wolfpack didn’t get off an attempt on their next possession, and their desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer came up well short.

Robinson has scored in double digits in 24 consecutive games and has 26 double-doubles, breaking Drew Gooden’s school record.

Kansas has won 11 of 12 all-time meetings, including all four at neutral sites.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

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