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Off the cuff: UNC coach Roy Williams moved into second place in all-time NCAA Tournament wins with victory No. 66. He passed Dean Smith, who won 65 at UNC. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is first with 89.

Williams showed humility and spoke truthfully when he said he wasn't as good a coach as Dean Smith. But in today's basketball world, he could accomplish more than Smith.

Williams has coached in 26 NCAA Tournaments. His teams have won at least one game in all 26 NCAA appearances, something no other coach has ever done.

Williams is 66-23 in NCAA Tournament play, including 32-9 at Carolina.

Williams is 779-208. The 779 wins are the 11th-most Division I wins all-time. Lute Olson is 10th with 780.


Tar Heels 83, Florida Gulf Coast 67
Carolina pulls away in the 2nd half

North Carolina led by just one at the half but ended up winning handily, leading by as many as 23 points before settling for an 83-67 victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the first round of the East Regional in the NCAA Tournament. (3/17)

In the first six minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels outscored the Eagles 18-5 to go up by 59-45. Marcus Paige started the run with a three pointer out of the locker room. The Carolina defense held Florida Gulf Coast without a field goal for nearly five minutes in the second half.

“That first half was one of the worst halves we’ve played all year,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “Then the first 10 minutes of the second half, we played really, really well.”

By the midway point of the second half, UNC had the lead up to 20 following a Joel Berry driving layup that made it 68-48.

Justin Jackson banged in a three to put Carolina up by 21 points and then Brice Johnson dished to Jackson for a layup to put the Heels up 73-50, the largest lead of the game.

But it was the defense that created the offense. Johnson swatted away a career-high eight blocked shots and the Heels stopped letting the Eagles get good looks. In the first half, Florida Gulf Coast were getting good shots and making them. In fact, the Eagles scored on their first six possessions and shot 60 percent in the first half.

Johnson said Coach Williams’ face was the pinkest he’d ever seen at the half as he and his teammates were getting chewed out for their lack of energy on defense. Johnson said heads were down as the Tar Heels were disappointed that they didn’t continue the strong defense they showed in the ACC Tournament.

Still, Carolina managed to lead at the half but only 41-40.

“We came out flat,” Johnson said. “We can’t do that. We’re going to have to play better than we did tonight.”

Johnson said his aggressiveness blocking shots in the second half was his way of firing up his team. “I was trying to help our team get some energy,” he said.

The Tar Heels also took advantage of the Eagles’ 14 turnovers as they turned the miscues into 21 points. By comparison, the Eagles scored just four points off seven Carolina turnovers.

Five Tar Heels scored in double figures with Johnson leading the way with 18 points. Berry was cold from beyond the arc, going just one of seven, but he managed to end up with 14 points. Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks finished with 12 points while Paige added 10.

In fewer than two minutes in the second half, a fired-up, aggressive Hicks scored seven of his 12 points to put the Heels up 66-46 and cap off a 25-6 run to start the second half.

Johnson said it was an advantage to play close by at the PNC Arena in Raleigh. “It was like a home game,” he said. “When Marcus (Paige) hit that three (to start the second half), you could hear the whole gym. It helped our momentum.”

That helped the Tar Heels avoid the unwanted history of being the first 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed in tournament history.


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