Rashad McCants led the way with 27 points,
as North Carolina (2-1) shot 65.4 percent from
the field (17-for-26) in the first half to take a
commanding 51-31 halftime lead.
“I just rode my teammates’ energy,”
McCants said. “They gave me the ball in the
right position to score and everything else
took care of itself.”
Just as in the 86-50 opening-round win
over Brigham Young, North Carolina also
capitalized on stifling defense, holding the
Volunteers to 36.7 percent shooting (11-for-
30) in the opening half.
“In the first half we did a great job on
defense and that’s what got us going,” said
Sean May, who had nine points and 13
rebounds. “Sometimes defense can take over
the game. We let down a little bit in the second
half and we have to get over that and finish a
game for 40 minutes.”
Raymond Felton had nine points and nine
assists, in his second game, since missing the
season-opening loss to Santa Clara. As was
the case against BYU, it was smooth sailing for
Carolina with Felton at the controls.
North Carolina shot 58.8 percent for the
Chris Lofton was 6-for-10 from 3-point
range and had 22 points for Tennessee, which
closed to 82-69 with 4:53 to play on two free
throws by C.J. Watson.
McCants then hit his third 3-pointer of the
game and Marvin Williams scored down low
to get the lead back to 18 points.
“In the second half we were a little more
lackadaisical than I would have liked, but
they were aggressive in the second half,” Roy
Williams said. “But I’ll tell you, we were pretty
doggone good in the first half.”
Jawad Williams had 21 points for North
“Their pressure got to us a little bit and
we took some quick shots, and pressure will
do that,” Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson
said. “Carolina defends and they have
weapons and depth, and when McCants
gets it going there aren’t many players that
talented in the country.”
The Tar Heels will play Iowa in the
championship game Wednesday. Iowa beat
Texas 82-80 on Tuesday.
“The two games I’ve seen Iowa play
they’ve been sensational,” Roy Williams said.
“They have very competitive kids and we
have to be just as competitive.”
This is North Carolina’s fourth appearance in
the Maui Invitational and the fourth time they’ve
reached the title game. They won it in 1999 and
finished second in 1989 and 1995.