Oregon Ducks vs. North Carolina Tar Heels FREE livestream
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 03, 2017,
Apr 03, 2017, 3:37
A year after having their season end with a buzzer-beater through the heart in the championship game, the Tar Heels again will play for a sixth national title Monday night after Saturday night's 77-76 win over OR in the second semifinal game at University of Phoenix Stadium. All of that work came to fruition on Saturday as the Tar Heels topped OR, 77-76, in the Final Four.
Add North Carolina's late escape, and the Final Four had two semifinals decided by four points or less for the first time since Georgia Tech-Oklahoma State and Connecticut-Duke in 2004.
North Carolina is back where it was this time last year - playing in the final game of the year with a national championship in mind.
The Tar Heels (32-7) downed the Oregon Ducks 77-76 in the second national semifinal Saturday night behind Kennedy Meeks' career-high 25 points.
Meeks didn't only grab the critical offensive rebound on Saturday night, he also happened to be the guy that went to the line and front-rimmed a pair of foul shots with 5.2 seconds left. Because there are only those fleeting moments to enjoy a Saturday victory at the Final Four before reality of the bigger game Monday night intrudes. The Ducks did cut the lead to 1 point with six seconds left, but the Tar Heels snagged two offensive rebounds in the final seconds after free throws to prevent OR from even getting a buzzer beater attempt off.
Then there's the matter of the late-game sequence, which appeared to align itself for a second-consecutive NCAA Tournament exit on a buzzer-beater for the Tar Heels.
Over the first 8:10 of the game, North Carolina was 3-of-17 from the field. "I'm sure (Bell) wished he'd boxed out right there".
"I know Gonzaga, they don't have the history that we do".
Przemek (pur-SHEH'-mehk) Karnowski finished with 13 points and Kilian Tillie iced the win by hitting two free throws with 2.2 seconds left.
OR junior forward Jordan Bell was again dominant on the glass and in the paint, blocking four shots and pulling down 16 rebounds while adding 13 points. "I wish I could have dove and gotten it".
They fumbled those away in a rash of bad shots, poor decisions and an inexplicable inability to secure rebounds on missed free throws.
But the heaviest of workloads was carried by Meeks and Justin Jackson, who have carried heavy loads for this team at various points through the season.
"Mark has nearly been like a little brother to me for a long time", Williams said of the Creswell native.
Somehow, through all the adversity, the Ducks had multiple chances to knock off the Tar Heels and reach national title game.
The first time, OR had the ball with just over 10 seconds left, but the team made a decision to just go for two and foul quickly. "Three hundred fifty-one teams start playing, and this is the second year in a row we're one of two left".
North Carolina's poor shooting in the first 20 minutes was counteracted by the Ducks' inability to take care of the ball, as OR gave it up 12 times.
"I just kept on telling them, we're the best team in the country", Berry said. The Ducks ranked 67th nationally in turnover percentage (16.9) and were averaging 11 turnovers per game in the NCAA Tournament. "We talk and work on little things all the time". But I told him: I said, 'Buddy, you got 16 rebounds.
"I'm not going to ask Kris for any advice, and if he gives me any advice I might fight him", Britt said.
Dorsey scored 21 points for OR (33-6).