Meeks shoots, and rebounds, and saves the day for Tar Heels

Posted April 03, 2017

Those should be gone now and if there are any lingering doubters, the Bulldogs can take care of that on Monday by beating one of the bluest of college basketball's blue bloods.

OR head coach Dana Altman reacts during the second half against North Carolina in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Which means that the Tar Heels are going to have to find a way to win, the same way they found a way to win on Saturday.

"Man, just an awesome, awesome basketball game, with just how hard both teams competed", Gonzaga's Few said.

But make no mistake. Whenever I go to the bench he gets in, and basically our team doesn't drop a bit. Yet they still managed to lead in the game during that span. "We just got to play the game and execute".

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.

All these North Carolina Tar Heels wanted - all they have ever, ever, ever wanted and worked and wished and waited for - was a second chance.

Plenty have doubted Gonzaga. They were down three points late in the game when Thornwell stepped to the line and made the first free throw to close the score to 75-73.

Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss turned the corner and dribbled into traffic, waited for three SC defenders to converge on him in the paint and then lobbed a little hook toward the rim despite Justin McKie smacking him on the left arm. "I think the respect thing has to go out the window".

Which team do you like to win the title? He's been playing well for us the entire season. His 16.9 scoring average leads five Bulldogs in double figures. It was a fight to the end with the bigger Bulldogs taking advantage of their twin towers - 7-foot freshman Zach Collins and 7-foot-1 senior Przemek Karnowski.

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The West Coast Conference player of the year, Williams-Goss finished with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, with six assists and five rebounds.

Tyler Dorsey followed with a three-pointer for OR before Meeks scored inside again for North Carolina. He is not often called upon to be a leading scorer, but when the Tar Heels went cold against Oregon, Meeks dominated with 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting. And he had 14 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass and none of which was more important than the last.

Kris Jenkins, whose shot destroyed the Tar Heels nearly exactly one year ago to date, sat in the first row of the North Carolina cheering section, alongside the parents he considers family, rooting for Nate Britt, who he considers a brother.

"I think our main objective every game is to hit teams early in the mouth, whether that's attacking them on the offensive end or playing great defense", Meeks said. Berry was 2 of 14.

Williams-Goss was the catalyst early, pulling up for jumpers, hitting 3s, setting up teammates for easy baskets.

Will the Tar Heels assert their usual dominance in the paint? Jackson added 22 points of his own, including four 3-pointers that helped the Tar Heels build and hang onto their second-half lead.

Will the last team standing be blue blood or new blood?

NOTES: North Carolina made its record 20th appearance in the Final Four.

"I really did say that".

"The atmosphere is that we're not done yet, I can kind of tell", Berry said. "I've had some teams that have been insane efficient on the offensive end and ones that have been pretty darned good on the defensive end that probably didn't get credit for it", Few said.