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Off the cuff: Can you believe how much time CBS "experts" yacked about the clock being off by half a second at the end? The opponents still need to score regardless of how much time is left and I doubt the Huskies would have gotten a better look than they got. The shooter just wasn't behind the three-point line.

They could have obsessed about how the Huskies' Overton knocked the ball out of Henson's hand and out of bounds with seven seconds left. But, instead, officials wrongly gave the ball to Washington and CBS announcers justified it with a bad-angle replay.

Or they could have obsessed about how Overton wrongly put up a wild long shot in anticipation of being fouled in the last couple of seconds.

Watching the CBS post-game show was like watching a wake where the deceased was wrongly killed.

That was a hard-fought and deserved victory that reminds me a bit of the NCAA tournament victory over LSU two years ago as the Heels were on their way to the NCAA title.

While this Carolina team might not get that far, this win seems important. Washington was a tough matchup for Carolina with big guys that could hang with the Tar Heels and three-point shooters.

Carolina was outrebounded (38-35) and outshot from the three-point line (10 to six). Yet the Tar Heels found a way to reach the Sweet 16 for a record 24th time.

The Tar Heels also won despite a below-par offensive game from John Henson, who seemed to get beat up a bit by the big bodies on the Washington team. He hit only four of 10 shots and two of five free throws.

But the guards, Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland played well. Marshall had 14 assists, breaking a UNC tournament record and Strickland got six rebounds, 13 points and didn't turn the ball over.

Plus, Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes continue their excellent late-season runs. Zeller, who can score on anybody when he gets to his jump hook spot, led all scorers with 23 points. Barnes, who hit four threes and came up with three steals, added 22 points.

After not making the NCAA tournament last year and with an entirely different starting five this year, North Carolina has to now feel that this has been a successful season, no matter what happens in the East Regional finals.

The Tar Heels have won the ACC regular season against all predictions and have survived a tough team in the NCAA tournament. While it might seem like gravy from here on, and some pressure may be off, make no mistake that this team isn't satisfied yet. Within minutes after the game, the players were talking about going to Newark, NJ. There is still some work to do.

Tar Heels 86, Washington 83
Heels survive, advance after a late rally

All five North Carolina starters scored in double figures and the Heels, trailing for most of the game, outscored Washington 13-7 over the last five minutes to win 86-83 in Charlotte and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. (3/20)

Down 76-73, UNC's Harrison Barnes scored on a fastbreak and then banged in a three from the right wing to put Carolina up 78-76 with 4:03 to go.

Free throws by Tyler Zeller gave the Tar Heels their biggest lead of the game up to that time at 80-76.

A Barnes steal and pass to Dexter Strickland for a layup put the Heels up 84-78 with 1:58 left. Carolina didn't score another basket the rest of the way and things got hairy when Washington's Scott Suggs hit a three with 17 seconds left to draw the score to 84-83.

Kendall Marshall had a chance to extend the lead with 15 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Huskies a chance to win it.

Washington's Venoy Overton drove to the basket but was rejected by John Henson with seven seconds left. Officials said the ball was off Henson but on the inbounds Henson deflected it and Strickland was fouled.

Strickland hit both free throws with five seconds left to put Carolina up 86-83 and ensure no worse than an overtime. Overton, anticipating contact, threw up a prayer from midcourt. The ball was going out of bounds but Henson touched it and the Huskies had one more chance with less than a second left.

Isaiah Thomas had a chance from the corner but he didn't step back far enough for the shot to be a three and the two came up short.

"We made a couple of shots (in the last few minutes) and fortunately for us we got some stops," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "I don't know what John (Henson) was doing (on the Overton long shot). He could have just let the ball go out of bounds and it would have been our game."

Williams said it was a great win and he was proud of his club for coming back after getting down in the first half. The Huskies struck for 12 points in less than a minute and a half midway through the first half to grap a 26-15 lead. The run was highlighted by two three-points by Terrence Ross, who didn't score in the first-round game. Against Carolina, he led the scoring with 19 points.

Six straight points by Zeller and driving buckets by Barnes fueled a 19-7 run that put the Tar Heels up 34-33. But Washington came back to take a 45-44 halftime lead.

The Huskies led by as many as five points in the second half and led much of the rest of the way though there were five second-half ties.

Washington hit 10 of 20 three pointers and outrebounded Carolina 38-35. The Tar Heels scored 11 more points from the foul line and turned the ball over only nine times compared to 13 for the Huskies.

Marshall dished out a UNC tournament record 14 assists and he scored 14 points. Zeller led the way with 23 points by Barnes was just behind with 22 points. Strickland scored 13 and Henson added 10.

The Tar Heels, now 28-7, play in the East Regional at Newark, N.J. Friday night against Marquette, upset winners over Syracuse.


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