North Carolina Edges Out Oregon For A Shot At Sixth NCAA Title

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points, Gonzaga's big men combined for 27 and the Bulldogs used some last-second strategy for a 77-73 victory over SC on Saturday in a matchup of first-time teams at the Final Four. Meeks was the champion of the night with 25 points and 14 rebounds, but he missed both.

The 6-foot junior is the Tar Heels' second-leading scorer at 14.6 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent of his 3-point attempts.

"Isaiah [Hicks] wasn't making any shots".

"I'm just thankful for the seniors and all they've done to help us get to that moment", said freshman guard Rakym Felder.

And it ended with the Tar Heels set to play Gonzaga, with a fresh shot at a championship on their minds, not Villanova.

In some form or other, that question has lingered at North Carolina all season. No. Meeks grabbed the rebound over Bell. Likewise, Jackson shirked some of his scoring responsibility to focus on locking down outstanding jump-shooter Malik Monk.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - North Carolina missed the shots.

North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks goes up with the ball against OR during a Final Four game on April 1 in Glendale, Ariz.

Gonzaga watched big man Przemek Karnowski fall to the floor in a heap and holding his eye as he headed to the locker room. Our college basketball experts predict the outcome, Most Outstanding Player and even (of course) the controversy. "Theo saved Kennedy, and Kennedy saved me". He's now preaching the philosophy to his teammates, as was the case before tip-off Saturday.

"We needed a last-minute something today", said Luke Maye, the Tar Heel who hit the Kentucky shot. "It was hard to get them to no see what they've seen and put my goggles on and see what I'm trying to see".

Both teams, coincidentally, scored 77 points in their rollicking semifinal wins in front of a crowd of 77,621 at University of Phoenix Stadium, the second-largest ever for a Final Four semifinal. He sealed the victory with a rebound instead of a basket - even if that opportunity arose somewhat dubiously.

No Oregon player, though, was more despondent after the loss than Jordan Bell, who finished with 16 rebounds but couldn't come up with the board on either of North Carolina's missed foul shots in the final seconds. "That's the way it is in basketball; you choose how you can recruit successfully and try to stick with that and try to get the best players you can that are willing to make those sacrifices".

North Carolina gave OR opportunities, missing four consecutive double-bonus free throws, but the Tar Heels grabbed both rebounds. And to be playing the last game of the season, we have a chance to play for it all.

Given the lead and Oregon's own terrible shooting (37 percent), losing this one might have felt every bit as bad as the Villanova loss a year ago.

The Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova in last year's national title game, will be seeking their sixth NCAA Tournament championship and third under coach Roy Williams.

Jackson's done his part to erase the bad memories throughout the season.

Coverage Saturday begins with pregame shows at 3 p.m., then Gonzaga and SC tipping off at 6:09 p.m.

The 66-year-old Williams called Few one of his best friends in coaching and said he was stressed out hoping that his poker buddy would finally break through and reach the Final Four this year. Meeks, Jackson and Berry started that game.

When Gonzaga meets North Carolina for the NCAA national championship on Monday night, it could be quite a brawl.

"Sometimes I just want to go back to laying in my bed, but I keep telling myself there are just four more days left in the season so I have to give it my all and do whatever it takes to get my body right", Berry said. Iowa State, Florida, Arizona, West Virginia, and Washington have all hurt Gonzaga badly with offensive rebounds.

  • Julie Sanders