Tar Heels advance with win over Villanova
Kansas City, MO – P.J. Hairston poured in a game-high 23 points and North Carolina head coach Roy Williams earned his 700th win, as the Tar Heels held off Villanova, 78-71, on Friday in a second-round matchup in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament at the Sprint Center.
James Michael McAdoo followed with 17 points, while Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Tar Heels (25-10), who have won 11 consecutive opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament.
"Number 700 means I've been coaching a long time, had really, really good players. But I was extremely excited for number 25 for this team," Williams remarked. "I'm interested in what this team is doing. Getting 25 for this team was really, really important to me."
Williams' former team -- top-seeded Kansas -- awaits the coach's current team in Sunday's third round after the Jayhawks slipped past Western Kentucky on Friday.
JayVaughn Pinkston paced Villanova (20-14) with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Darrun Hilliard donated 18 points and Mouphtaou Yarou added 17 for the Wildcats, who lost to North Carolina in the Final Four back in 2009.
"We thought we were good enough to win this game, we really did," Villanova coach Jay Wright remarked. "But you've got to give Carolina credit. We didn't play as well as they did tonight."
The Tar Heels led by as many as 20 over the opening 20 minutes and held a 34-15 edge with 5:16 left in the half, but UNC went the rest of the frame without a field goal, allowing Villanova to close the stanza on a 14-3 spurt to make it an eight-point game at the break.
Bullock opened the second half with a jumper to quell the field-goal drought, but the Tar Heels went another five-plus minutes without a bucket from the field. The Wildcats clawed their way in front with a 15-3 run that Pinkston capped with a layup to give Villanova a 44-42 edge with 14:25 still to play.
Brice Johnson finally stopped the bleeding with a dunk, and after Pinkston split a pair at the line, Bullock and Hairston buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Tar Heels the lead for good.
North Carolina's lead was four, 54-50, with under 6 1/2 minutes left before the Tar Heels caught fire from beyond the arc, knocking down a 3-pointer on three consecutive possessions. The final one came at the hand of Hairston to extend the lead to 63-54 with 5:10 remaining.
With the margin at 67-59 and 3:20 still to play, Villanova put together one final push, ripping off seven straight points to pull within one just over a minute later.
Paige quelled the surge with a trey from the left wing, and after Yarou finished a layup inside, the freshman southpaw knocked down two free throws to make it 72-68 with 1:36 left.
The Wildcats came up empty on their next three touches before Hairston provided the final dagger, as he finished a fastbreak layup and buried the ensuing free throw for a 3-point play that gave the Tar Heels a 76-68 cushion with 42 seconds remaining.
Hilliard answered with a trey at the other end, but Villanova failed to score the rest of the way.
Williams is the fourth active coach with 700 wins and the 21st in NCAA history. 418 of Williams' wins came during his 15-year stint at Kansas ... UNC now leads the all-time series, 11-4 ... North Carolina shot 49 percent from the field, including 52.4 percent from 3-point range ... Villanova shot 44.3 percent from the floor, despite shooting a dismal 4-for-21 (19 percent) from beyond the arc.