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Carolina NCAA magic continues at Charlotte with win vs. Lipscomb
Tar Heels 12-0 all time in tournament games
 
Published Friday, March 16, 2018 6:14 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON
North Carolina's Cameron Johnson shoots over Lipscomb's Matt Rose, 12, and Rob Marberry in the Tar Heels' 84-66 win at Spectrum Center in the first round of the NCAA tournament. North Carolina is 12-0 all-time in tournament games in Charlotte.

North Carolina does not lose at Spectrum Center.

The Tar Heels (26-10), seeded second in the West Region, kicked off their NCAA tournament campaign in anticipated fashion with an 84-66 win against No. 15 Lipscomb (23-10), but it exposed weakness that No. 7 Texas A&M (21-12) could exploit in Sunday’s second-round game. North Carolina, the defending national champions, came out turnover-prone against the Bisons, creating three in the first 4 1/2 minutes, which led to a Lipscomb lead.

“We were turning the ball over, and that gave them confidence in the first half,” said junior guard Kenny Williams, who led the Tar Heels in scoring with 18 points, on 6-of-8 shooting beyond the arc. “That let them stick around. We knew we were beating ourselves. Once we got over that hump, we were all right from there. We just had to get stops and finish on the other end.”

Senior forward Theo Pinson’s double-double of 15 points and 10 boards and the presence of junior forward Luke Maye, a Hough High graduate, on the glass with nine boards as well as his 10 points, told a typical North Carolina story—beat opponents on the glass with their size. The Tar Heels outrebounded Lipscomb 47-29, and made their presence known in the paint, outscoring the Bisons 42-30.

“It’s a big time game,” Pinson said. “It’s win or go home—bottom line. If you don’t have jitters, you’re not human.”

North Carolina is undefeated in NCAA tournament games played in Charlotte (12-0 overall and 5-0 at Spectrum Center) and improved to 34-1 in postseason games in North Carolina. Their comfort needs to last one more game, according to coach Roy Williams, who holds the best record in first-round games in NCAA history at 28-0. He noted the Tar Heels’ 2005 first- and second-round success in Charlotte against Oakland and Iowa State in Charlotte, winning by 25-plus-point margins in each contest as they went on to win the whole thing.

“We have good players who have really played well,” Williams said. “The fans really do help us, and I am willing to see if we can pass a law that will say we play all the NCAA games here. I would be willing to go for that. I mean, ’05 and ’09, excuse me, ’05 particularly, I thought we played great here. I’ve never lost to a building, but this has been very comfortable for us. Hopefully it will last one more game.”

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