“It’s survive and advance, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Roy Williams said.
But while Ginyard helped to seal the deal late, Tyler Hansbrough’s game-high 24 points along with nine rebounds and three steals kept the Tar Heels (23-7) in the game despite a tremendous defensive effort by Murray State.
“We’re going to ride that horse all the way to Indianapolis,” David Noel said when asked about Hansbrough’s performance.
Danny Green also chipped in 15 points off the bench on a night UNC shot just 46 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three-point range.
Noel went as far as to say he thought the Tar Heels’ freshmen seemed “scared,” although Hansbrough, Green, Ginyard and Bobby Frasor combined for 52 points.
“Scared is a strong word; we had jitters,” laughed Frasor, whose hit a key three-pointer with 2:43 to play. “It was easy to see that they were beating us to loose balls and getting rebounds over us early on. But I think we settled down in the second half.
“David really brought us together and kind of got on us. He motivated us and said `This is it. Four minutes left in the game. Win or go home.”
The Racers (23-7), without senior forward Shawn Witherspoon most of the game after he suffered a broken foot in the first half, didn’t win the overall rebounding battle. However they did manage 17 offensive rebounds, which almost made up for a 7-for-27 shooting night from beyond the arc.
“They out-hustled us,” said Noel, who finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Carolina started sharp with Reyshawn Terry (9 points) hitting a three, as UNC opened an 8-2 lead. But a three by Pearson gave Murray State its first lead of the game 23-22 with 6:51 remaining in the first half. And despite being on the short end of a 10-2 foul discrepancy, the Racers took a 31-30 lead at intermission on another Pearson bucket.
In all four contests Friday in Dayton, the lower-seeded team led at the break.
A jumper by Rob Kennedy stoked the Racers to their largest advantage, 52-48, with 10:18 to play. But a three by Green capped a 7-0 Carolina run, and the Tar Heels still led 62-57 at the 5:27 mark.
However, Murray State battled back to tie the score at 65 apiece in the final minutes, before Hansbrough answered with a tough baseline jumper and then blocked shot on the other end to set up a foul against Ginyard and his subsequent trip to the line.
“Down the stretch I was really pleased with several things that we did,” Williams said. “Bobby made a big three for us to put us up four. We came down when it was a two-point game, we called a time out and got a basket from Tyler as the shot clock was winding down. David got a big rebound on the other end for us, and they fouled Marcus who goes to the line and makes both free throws.
“You like the way you can compete and execute down the stretch, but we do feel very fortunate.”
For No. 3 seed Carolina to advance to the Washington, D.C. regional for a record 21st Sweet 16, it must get past No. 11 George Mason (24-7) on Sunday at 2:20 p.m. The Patriots, controversial at-large entrants from the Colonial Athletic Association, upset sixth-seeded Michigan State, 75-65.