March Madness 2019: UNC players get the message, finish like a 1-seed

first_img“I think for a couple moments there, we were concerned about the score more so than how we were playing,” he said. “I just tried to get us to focus on playing better, playing better and doing what we’ve done all year long.”  Message received. It just took a half for the No. 1 seed to show the way it plays.  Now it needs to pick up where it left off. It took a half to show it, but North Carolina (28-6) looked the part of a top seed in an 88-73 victory. The Tar Heels advanced to the second round of the Midwest Region to face ninth-seeded Washington (27-8) on Sunday.  The Tar Heels had won their previous seven games as a No. 1 under Williams by an average of 29.2 points and had scored 100-plus points three times. Iona, however, made it clear it intended to shoot as many 3-pointers as possible, an assortment of swishes and bricks that did not seem to rattle its shooters. The Gaels (17-16) hit 10 of 21 from 3-point range in the first half. Rickey McGill and Asante Gist combined for seven of those long-range buckets. SN’s MARCH MADNESS HQLive NCAA bracket | Live scoreboard | Full TV schedule”Making shots really took them a long way,” Johnson said. “It took us out of getting transition opportunities, made us play offense in the half court. They slowed down the tempo.” The Heels shot 13 of 40 from the floor and 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half. The star-studded trio of Johnson, Coby White and Luke Maye was just 7 of 23 from the field. Williams. however, was looking at a different stat.  “When North Carolina plays a half and has just three assists, that tells you right there we’re not moving the basketball,” he said. “We talked about that and the turnovers.”  Would the Gaels’ game plan be sustainable for 40 minutes? Of course not. Iona hit 5 of 20 from 3-point range in the second half and the Tar Heels shot 22 of 35 from the floor. That is the reality of 1-16 matchups. “We did not start switching on on-the-ball screens with a hard edge,” Williams said. “They didn’t set as many screens, so that didn’t change much. It was just playing with more passion and getting to the shooters, and more importantly, we didn’t stand around on the offensive end.”North Carolina opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Johnson as part of a 15-5 run in the first segment. Maye scored eight points. The Tar Heels hit 6 of 9 shots. They stretched the lead to double digits at the 13:08 mark when Maye passed up a look in the post to dish to Johnson, who splashed a wide-open 3 that prompted Iona coach Tim Cluess to call a timeout.  Johnson finished with 21 points and five Tar Heels scored in double figures as UNC completed a 20-point turnaround in the second half.North Carolina fans booed during a late timeout as highlights from Duke’s win over North Dakota State, including the latest dunk from Zion Williamson, were shown. The top-seeded Blue Devils led by four at the break and had a 19-point advantage in the second half. The other No. 1 seed from the ACC — Virginia — pulled away in the second half for a 15-point win over Gardner-Webb after trailing by six at intermission.The Heels made sure there would be no 1-16 upsets this year, even if Iona might have entertained the thought at halftime. The Gaels were thinking that before Williams delivered his message and the Tar Heels showed what they were about. SCHLARP: Virginia has unfinished business “I think UMBC (beating Virginia) last year made for a little more pressure (for No. 1 seeds),” Williams said. “It’s part of the game. I understand that totally. If you’re a tough competitor and you invest yourself in the game, then you’re not just worried about the score. You are more concerned about how you play.   COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 1 seed North Carolina trailed No. 16 seed Iona by five points at halftime in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament on Friday at Nationwide Arena, and coach Roy Williams had a simple message in the locker room.  “He just said, ‘That’s not the way we play, and you need to pick it up,'” Tar Heels guard Cameron Johnson said. “We received that message loud and clear. We knew that first half was unacceptable.”last_img

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