RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina made everything look easy in
its first two NCAA tournament games, from running out to big early
leads to cracking the 100-point mark with plenty of time left on
The only people who don't sound all that impressed are, well,
those same Tar Heels.
"We don't think that winning two games in the NCAA tournament
is a huge success for us," junior Marcus Ginyard said.
Fair enough. But even the hard-to-please coach of the
tournament's overall No. 1 seed can't deny how sharp his team
looked here after the Tar Heels' 108-77 rout of Arkansas in
Sunday's second round. Now Roy Williams' team - after putting on a
show for its home-state fans - is off and running to the round of
16, where another comfortable setting awaits.
Wayne Ellington scored 20 points and the Tar Heels (34-2) raced
to a double-digit lead in the first 5 minutes to earn a trip to the
East Regional semifinals in Charlotte, located about two hours
southwest of their Chapel Hill campus. They will face fourth-seeded
Washington State on Thursday night in the same arena where they won
last weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Ty Lawson added 19 points and seven assists for the Tar Heels,
who followed their first-round rout of Mount St. Mary's with a
similar offensive display. They scored the first nine points, led
51-26 at halftime and shot 68 percent for the game. Along the way,
North Carolina became the first team to score 100 points in its
first two NCAA games since Loyola Marymount did it against New
Mexico State and Michigan in 1990.
The ninth-seeded Razorbacks (23-12), which upset Vanderbilt and
Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta last
week, never got closer than 21 points after the break.
"We were pretty doggone good," Williams said. "We really
It marked only the third time in the past 25 years that the Tar
Heels won both of their first two NCAA games by 20 or more points.
The only other teams to do it - 1993 and 2005 - went on to win the
national championship. The Tar Heels also tied the school's
single-season record for victories, matching the '93 team and the
1998 squad that reached the Final Four in San Antonio.
This year's group is determined to get back there, driven by
memories of a second-half collapse against Georgetown in last
year's regional finals.
"We've got another two-game tournament to play next weekend,"
Ginyard said. "And that's what we're focused on right now. At this
point, this game does not mean anything to us any more. This is
just not where this team wants to end up."
The Tar Heels looked every bit like the tournament's top seed in
its first two games at the RBC Center, located about a half-hour
from Chapel Hill and home to rival North Carolina State. Playing in
front of a blue-clad crowd, North Carolina made Arkansas look as
helpless as the 16th-seeded Mountaineers did in Friday night's
"It makes us feel good, like we're doing our job and doing
exactly what Coach wants us to do," Lawson said. "The last two
games, he hasn't said, 'You need to run more.' I guess we finally
found out how much he wants us to run."
The Razorbacks looked nothing like the team that beat Indiana
86-72 in the first round to secure the program's first NCAA win
since 1999. Sonny Weems had a career-high 31 points on 12-for-14
shooting in that game, but finished with 19 on 8-for-20 shooting
against the Tar Heels.
Afterward, coach John Pelphrey said the Tar Heels were the best
team Arkansas had played all season, going as far to quip, "We
probably could've started six today, and I don't know if that
would've helped or not."
"If they play like this, I don't think anybody in the nation
can beat them," Weems said. "They're not the No. 1 team in the
nation for no reason."
The Tar Heels didn't get a particularly big day from
All-American Tyler Hansbrough, who finished with 17 points on
6-for-14 shooting. But he made five of seven free throws, which
allowed him to surpass Duke's Christian Laettner for the most made
free throws in a career for an ACC player.
Deon Thompson finished with 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting for
North Carolina, and frontcourt mate Alex Stepheson had 10 on
5-for-5 shooting. Eleven players scored for the Tar Heels, and
Williams was able to empty his bench and give his regulars plenty
of time to cheer from the sideline for the second straight game.
"We know we're capable of it," Ellington said of the team's
100-point production. "We've done it before. When we have
everybody contributing the way we are, we know we can do that night
in and night out."