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Off the cuff: N.C. State played well enough to defeat Carolina and the Heels were ripe for the picking.

John Henson was in street clothes. His backup, James M. McAdoo, picked up three fouls in the first half. Heels QB Kendall Marshall missed some time with two fouls in the first half. The Tar Heels had to play an unfamiliar zone defense because of the foul trouble.

Justin Watts, who averages about six minutes per game, had to play 18 minutes in this one. Harrison Barnes was off all day, hitting just three of 12 field goals and hitting just eight of 12 free throws.

But, when it came down to it, N.C. State was hindered by its own foul troubles and Zeller reeled off points in spurts for Carolina. It took a short contest bank shot by Kendall Marshall, who had 12 points and 10 assists, to secure the victory with 10 seconds left.

The State players have been frustrated with officials' calls all year and have had a chip on their shoulder since ref Karl Hess threw a couple of former players out of the stadium a few games back.

Some of the Wolfpack players, most notably Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, acted in a classless manner to fouls or to what they thought should be fouls.

Howell is not a stranger to foul trouble has he has been called for four or five fouls in 16 of the Wolfpack's games.

This act that State and its fans have in blaming officials for any woes is unflattering and does not endear them to any reasonable person. There were calls that could be considered bad on both teams. Get over it and be proud that State played well and is turning its program around.

Tar Heels 69, NC State 67
UNC fends off some angry young men

UNC, playing without an injured John Henson and without a fouled out Tyler Zeller, found a way to defeat a frustrated, angry N.C. State team when Kendall Marshall banked in a short shot late to give the Tar Heels a 69-67 victory in the ACC Tournament semi-finals. (3/10)

The State team, which led by seven in the second half, seemingly got angrier and angrier as the fouls piled up on its players. Howard and Painter stayed in foul trouble and C.J. Leslie picked up two quick fouls to foul out with eight minutes to go.

Leslie had led the Wolfpack to a 34-31 halftime lead with 17 first-half points. A stunned State team watched as Leslie fussed, and cussed, and flayed about on his way to the bench. NCSU coach Mark Gottfried admitted that the coaches didn't realize that Leslie had already picked up his fourth foul.

He left, however, with Carolina holding its biggest lead of the game at 58-52 but Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown kept the Pack in it. A Howell rebound and bucket inside followed by a Brown driveby dunk pulled State to within one at 62-61 with 4:35 to go.

The Tar Heels worked the margin back up to five at 66-61 following a Harrison Barnes bucket in the lane and a pair of Zeller free throws with 2:23 left. But five straight points by Brown tied it at 66 with just 1:31 to go.

The teams traded free throws and State called a timeout with 52 seconds to go. But just 10 seconds later, Alex Johnson threw wildly out of bounds on an attempted pass to Brown.

Carolina held it before Marshall drove to the left of the lane and banked in a contested bank shot with 10 seconds left. State complained that it was a charge on Marshall but replays show that Johnson, the defender, was moving and not squared up to Marshall.

With time running down, UNC's Justin Watts stepped in front a Scott Woods pass and threw it well into the backcourt as he was falling out of bounds. State retrieved it with a second left.

The long, lofty inbounds pass to Howell was broken up by Reggie Bullock and Barnes as the Heels escaped with the victory. State wanted a foul but replays showed that Howell didn't have any control as the three players tangled for the ball.

Still, a very angry Howell had to be restrained by Brown from going after the official for not making a call. Howell and other State players directed displeasure with the officials by hurling arms and foul language in their direction.

It was a frustrating day for State, which played well enough to win on a day that Henson wasn't even suited up and on a day that his replacement, James Michael McAdoo, got into foul trouble. McAdoo sat on the bench for 10 minutes after getting his fourth foul. Marshall sat more than usual in the first half after his second foul and Zeller also fouled out with the score tied with 1:08 to play. The foul trouble also forced UNC coach Roy Williams to employ a less aggressive zone defense.

But the Pack had their own foul troubles throughout as well so they weren't able to take full advantage of Carolina's woes.

There were two key runs for the Tar Heels in the second half. Trailing 46-40, Zeller drew a foul and made the shot on spin move to pull the Heels to 46-43. Barnes hit a pair of free throws to make it 46-45 before he pulled up for a transition three with 13:41 to go to give Carolina the lead at 48-46.

Then, trailing 52-50, Carolina went on an 8-0 run with Zeller, who scored a game-high 23 points, accounting for seven of them to put the Heels back up 58-52 for their largest lead of the game.

Leslie had 22 points to lead N.C. State, which must wait to see if it made it into the NCAA Tournament. Most think the Pack has done enough. "We feel lucky as we can be to get out against a really good North Carolina State team," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "It would be one of the worse things ever if they're not in the tournament Sunday."

North Carolina, 29-4, plays Florida State, which defeated Duke, at 1 p.m. Sunday for the ACC Tournament title.


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