It wasn’t the prettiest display of basketball by UNC – games where you turn the ball over 24 times never are. But the Tar Heels found a way to win – defeated Stanford 67-63 in the Maui Invitational semifinals.
For the second contest in a row, North Carolina struggled early offensively, shooting 2-7 from the floor. As the game settled so did the Heels, but they still went to the locker room at halftime trailing Stanford 33-29.
Both teams would play each other close in the second half and exchange leads late in the period, but UNC’s defense – led by junior guard Leaky Black – would propel North Carolina to victory.
“Feel very lucky,” Coach Roy Williams said during his postgame conference. “I loved how we just kept trying to make it ugly but at the same time kept competing.”
“The game was just decided in one or two plays. We were not very good on the offensive end. 24 turnovers and so many of them can be classified as either selfish or careless. You shouldn’t have turnovers in either one of those categories, but we ended up scoring more points. We were lucky that they missed some shots and missed a couple of free throws down the stretch.”
This is exactly the type of ugly game UNC would’ve lost last year, but Black says the tough experience is exactly why they were able to get the win.
“I feel like we’re battle tested. I feel like we’ve been through everything we could possibly have gone through last year. I feel like we’ve got some guys that’s willing to learn and to fight when the going gets tough and that’s all you can ask for. We listened to coach and went out there and played hard. Everything else took care of itself.”
UNC will take on 17th ranked Texas tomorrow at 4pm in the Maui Invitational championship.