UNC Wins South Regional - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

UNC Wins South Regional

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Tyler Hansbrough deferred to his teammates

- just as he'd hinted he might.

This was no one-on-one matchup down low. Instead, North Carolina

rolled past Blake Griffin and Oklahoma with a total team effort.

Ty Lawson scored 19 points and top-seeded North Carolina

overcame a quiet game from Hansbrough to beat the Sooners 72-60

Sunday in the South Regional final.

North Carolina (32-4) advanced to the Final Four for the second

straight year and will play Villanova in the national semifinals.

"This is what we work for," the Tar Heels' Wayne Ellington

said. "We put so much work in and sweat in the offseason to get

not to this point, but past this point. It means a lot to be able

to get to this point and have an opportunity to win the whole

thing."

Danny Green scored 18 points for the Tar Heels and Deon Thompson

added 10. Hansbrough was in foul trouble early and finished with

only eight points, but he'd said the previous day he wasn't going

to be caught up in a head-to-head battle with Griffin.

Griffin scored 23 points with 16 rebounds for second-seeded

Oklahoma, but the Sooners (30-6) went 2-for-19 from 3-point range.

"One thing about Blake is I think he's tough down low to box

out," Hansbrough said. "I think one thing about him is he's one

of the best rebounders I've played against and so that was very

tough. I think he gets a lot of stuff off offensive rebounds and

his rebounding ability was something I think I'm not really used to

seeing."

Still, it was Hansbrough who was standing on the court after the

game, posing for pictures while the Tar Heels cut down the nets.

That's a routine this program has down pat.

North Carolina reached a record 18th Final Four. UCLA has been

to 18, but the Bruins' 1980 appearance was later vacated by the

NCAA because of rules violations.

This will be the Tar Heels' second Final Four in a row and ninth

in 19 seasons - and it will be played at Detroit's Ford Field,

where they routed Michigan State 98-63 in December. Earlier Sunday,

the Spartans also reached the Final Four.

North Carolina lost in the semifinals last season.

"This team has dealt with a great deal of adversity and a great

deal of expectations from other people and they have us going to

Detroit," coach Roy Williams said.

North Carolina led 61-40 before Oklahoma scored nine straight

points, including its first 3-pointer after 15 misses to start the

game. Lawson made a couple free throws with 4:12 to play to halt

that run.

"We fully believed we were going to win this basketball game

today, but this is how life is sometimes. It doesn't happen the way

you want it," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "I thought the game

would've been a lot more interesting if we could've made some

shots, but I thought we had some really good looks."

Hansbrough was The Associated Press player of the year in 2008,

and Griffin has made an impressive bid for this year's honor. It

wasn't much of a contest on the stat sheet, but the Tar Heels set

the tone by swarming Griffin early with double teams. He didn't

score before making two free throws with 8:29 remaining in the

first half.

"That's something we faced as a team all year," Griffin said.

"Teams might not have as many guys like that."

Both teams appeared tight at the start, but the Tar Heels

loosened up quickly. Lawson pulled up for a jumper from the free

throw line that gave North Carolina a 13-2 lead and forced Oklahoma

to take a timeout less than six minutes in.

At first, Griffin was content to pass out of the double teams,

and Oklahoma accomplished one of its goals by controlling the pace.

North Carolina didn't have many early fast breaks and even tossed

up several uncharacteristic air balls.

At the other end, however, the Sooners were stagnant. After a

3-pointer by Green put the Tar Heels ahead 28-16, the shot clock

ran out on Oklahoma when Griffin was double teamed and the Sooners

didn't react quickly enough.

With his teammates shooting poorly, Griffin became more

aggressive, scoring Oklahoma's last seven points of the half, but

the Sooners still trailed 32-23 at intermission - their

lowest-scoring half of the season. Oklahoma scored all its

first-half points from the paint or the foul line.

Green scored 14 points in the first half. Hansbrough picked up

two fouls in the first seven minutes and played only nine in the

half.

North Carolina made its first six shots of the second half, and

the Tar Heels were able to maintain a comfortable lead even as

Griffin threw down a powerful, one-handed alley-oop dunk at the

other end.

North Carolina eventually went ahead 53-38 on a 3-pointer by

Lawson.

"It's not hard to see how talented they are throughout the

year. I've always been impressed with them," said Taylor Griffin,

who scored four points for the Sooners. "They're as good as

advertised, I think."

On Saturday, Williams uttered perhaps the week's most prescient

quote:

"If you say, Tyler, you're going to have eight points and seven

rebounds but North Carolina is going to win, he's going to be the

happiest guy in town."

Hansbrough had eight points and six rebounds, and he and his

teammates were happy and headed back to the Final Four.

"It's a different team," Green said. "It's a new year, a new

day. It's a new game, and we know what our goals are."

Powered by Frankly