This time, the North Carolina got it right.
North Carolina topped the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Monday night at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., by a score of 71-65, earning the school its sixth men's basketball title. It took him 19 shots to do it. Justin Jackson made the go-ahead play with 1:40 on the game clock. The Zags held North Carolina to 35 percent from the field and 4 of 27 from 3-point range.
Meeks' game against Gonzaga was not almost as huge as his 25-point, 14-rebound effort against OR in a national semifinal Saturday, but he still finished the Final Four with 32 points and 24 rebounds in two games.
North Carolina's shooting was actually better than Gonzaga's.
Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.
Josh Perkins was averaging 5.2 points and shooting 34.8 percent from the floor in the first five games of the NCAA tournament, but his play buoyed Gonzaga in the first half, scoring 13 points - more than he's scored in any game since February 23rd, a total he eclipsed just twice since Christmas - and helping Gonzaga jump out to an early nine-point lead, but the Zags, overall, did not play all that well in the first 20 minutes. North Carolina is no stranger to the big game, nor the big dance, though this was the first time that Gonzaga has been to the Final Four.
North Carolina's Roy Williams is in his ninth Final Four and fourth championship game, two of which were titles in 2005 and '09.
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The first half seemed to belong to Gonzaga from the jump, thought UNC never let them get too far ahead.
"We were negotiating through massive foul issues, ones that we haven't had all year", Few said. Collins fouled out with 5:03 left to play, and many of Gonzaga's other major players were sitting with four fouls.
"You know, our president tweets out more bullshit than anybody I've ever seen", he said.
This year's championship showcase featured a welter of fouls and missed shots by both teams. "The problem was there was a foul on the play".
Williams-Goss scored 23 points in the semifinal win over SC.
An unwatchable game turned into a lovely night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate. With just 21 seconds left Hicks hit a big shot for UNC putting them up by three before Kennedy Meeks put together two of the greatest defensive plays of his college career. "So we were at fault just as much as anybody else".
But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth. "I think that's why when you guys asked us about him, none of us were anxious because we know how tough he is and we know as a team how important getting here and winning this game was". And with the possession arrow going North Carolina's way, the Tar Heels received the ball and an extra chance to add to their lead.