Maui Champs

-- AP
Posted Nov 24, 2004


LAHAINA, Hawaii --- After sitting out the season-opening loss, Raymond Felton seemed to be on a mission at the Maui Invitational.

No one was more valuable than North Carolina’s junior point guard in the Tar Heels’ 106-92 victory over Iowa in Wednesday night’s championship game—or all week for that matter. And he was appropriately rewarded with tournament MVP honors. All this in spite of a left wrist injury suffered the day before.

“I was in pain the whole time, but I just forgot about it,” Felton said. “I love my teammates to death, the coaching staff, Coach Williams. I’ll always give them 100 percent.”

Felton’s stat line doesn’t tell the whole story—13 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals—but it was the shut-down defensive job he did on Iowa’s Jeff Horner that was the key to victory.

“We talked about how Horner is the key to their whole team because he shoots with such range he spreads your defense,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Whomever is guarding him has to keep him in front of them but be close enough to do something. Raymond is our best on the ball defender and his play was important to us on both ends of the court. He established the tempo on the offensive end and he’s difficult to dribble penetrate against on the defensive end.”

Horner averaged 22.5 points in the first two games for the Hawkeyes, shooting 22- for-40 from the field. Felton, playing with a bandage on his left wrist, just wouldn’t let Horner get the ball where he wanted it.

Horner took just four shots in the first half and made two, and had six points as North Carolina (3-1) took a 59-40 lead. The Tar Heels shot 58 percent in the first half, closing the opening 20 minutes by making 11 of their last 14 shots.

“I think more than what Felton did defensively was how he broke our defense down,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “He was tremendous. He made shots and he does such a great job of setting everybody else up. Nine assists and one turnover. He had a very, very good game and he’s as good a point guard as we’ve played.”

Rashad McCants was the high scorer with 22 points for the Heels. Adam Haluska had 19 points and Horner added 18 for Iowa, which beat Louisville and Texas to reach the championship game.

Felton used a quick crossover dribble to get by a defender and threw down a vicious dunk to make it 71-48 with 16:36 to play. Less than two minutes later, he took a pass near midcourt, took the ball around his back to avoid a defender and laid it in left-handed, showing no signs of trouble with the wrist, to make it 73-51.

“It was just basic instinct, just my ability, that’s about it,” Felton said of the two plays. “When I made the crossover, I saw an opportunity to dunk and that’s what I did. In transition, I went behind my back and tried to finish the layup.”

Jawad Williams added 18 points and Sean May had 16 for North Carolina, which had 12 steals and forced 22 turnovers.


Related Stories
UNC-Iowa: Box Score
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 24, 2004
UNC-UT: Box Score
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 23, 2004
Heels outwork Vols
 -by InsideCarolina.com  Nov 23, 2004

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