North Carolina survives runs from Harvard to advance to Round of 32
In a day filled with double-digit point upsets, North Carolina nearly joined the ranks of Iowa State and Baylor. The Tar Heels, the No. 4 seed in the West Region, held off No. 13 Harvard, as Justin Jackson scored the final four points of the game to give his team a 67-65 win.
Despite trailing by double digits in both halves, Harvard, which had won individual games in each of the last two tournaments, just wouldn’t go away. Trailing by two points with just more than two minutes left in the game, Siyani Chambers turned in one of the best sequences of his career. He stole the ball from Brice Johnson, grabbed an offensive rebound to give his team an extra possession, then drained a three and got fouled, giving the Crimson their first lead of the game. He converted the free throw, putting Harvard up 65-63 with 1:15 left in the game.
The Tar Heels, however, would not shrink from the moment. Jackson made a short jumper to tie the game, and when Chambers missed a three on Harvard’s ensuring possession, North Carolina turned the long rebound into a fast-break dunk by Jackson. The Crimson had two more possessions to tie or take the lead, but Chambers and Wesley Saunders each missed shots from behind the arc, and North Carolina escaped with a two-point victory.
North Carolina threatened to run away and hide in the first 10 minutes of each half. The Tar Heels built a 14-point lead in the first half, only to see that whittled down to three with three minutes left before halftime. The Tar Heels then closed the half on a 10-2 run, and opened up the lead to 16 points within the first five minutes of the second half. The Crimson would chip away at the lead, but wouldn’t over the next 14 minutes, but wouldn’t actually get in front until Chambers aforementioned three.
Saunders led all scorers with 25 points, while Jackson led the Tar Heels with 14. Marcus Paige had 12 points and six assists, and Kennedy Meeks had 10 points while grabbing eight rebounds. The Tar Heels will face the winner of Arkansas and Wofford on Saturday.