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Off the cuff: Yes, Carolina should have put Arkansas away when the Heels led 30-13. But all the teams left in the tournament are good and have pride so it wasn't surprising that it was close down the stretch.

Some of the elements to a UNC defeat were there - namely poor shooting, turnovers and a hobbled point guard. But Carolina was tough over the last four minutes of the game - a lock-down defense, an aggressive offense and good foul shooting.

You need to be able to survive games like that. I've mentioned this before but when Carolina won the NCAA title in 1982, the Tar Heels beat James Madison by two points. And this Arkansas team is better than that James Madison team. And this Carolina team doesn't have two of the best players in the history of the game - Jordan and Worthy.

Arkansas made a comeback by hitting six straight shots at the end of the first half. Twice Carolina fouled a three-point shooter and it led to seven Arkansas points.

But the Razorbacks missed their last seven shots of the game while Carolina hit six of its last seven shots.

The Heels had scored 17 points off turnovers in the first half but then Arkansas turned the tables in the second half. UNC finished with 17 turnovers while Arkansas finished with 19.

During one stretch, Carolina failed to hit a field goal over seven minutes. If the Tar Heels do that again, they'll likely not survive as the teams just get better and better.

If the Heels had lost, you'd probably be hearing more about a play that seemed to turn the tide. It's a common refrain that officials don't win or lose games, players do.

But with the Tar Heels ahead 44-37, the ball went out of balls off an Arkansas player. There was no Tar Heel around to knock it out but the officials gave the ball to Arkansas.

Within a couple of seconds, Arkansas hit a three-pointer to draw within four points. The run, which might have been stopped had the ball been awarded to Carolina, continued until the Razorbacks led 50-46. They didn't trail again until Isaiah Hicks hit the back end of a one-and-one situation with 1:44 to play.

tchup for Carolina.

Tar Heels 72, Arkansas 65
Heels need 12-0 late run to survive

North Carolina, despite leading by 17 in the first half, needed a 12-0 run at the end of the game to defeat Arkansas 72-65 to advance to the Sweet 16. (3/19)

The Tar Heels trailed 65-60 with more than three minutes left and it particularly looked bad for Carolina after four straight turnovers. Then Joel Berry missed a three and Isaiah Hicks' shot was blocked.

But Carolina locked down defensively. "We did a good job of forcing them into bad shots late," Berry said.

While UNC hit six of its last seven shots, Arkansas missed all of its last seven shots.

During the game-ending run, Berry and Hicks each hit both ends of one-and-one free throw situations. Hicks' second free throw gave the Heels the lead a 66-65 with 1:44 to play.

After Carolina forced a errant long three at the end of the shot clock, Kennedy Meeks came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game. A driving Berry threw up a wild shot at the end of the shot clock. UNC's bench thought Berry was fouled while Arkansas' bench thought Berry charged. Nothing was called and the shot bounded high of the backboard when Meeks tipped the rebound in with his left hand to give the Heels a 68-65 lead with just 45 seconds to play.

Meeks said Berry showed great desire and determination to get the ball up. "I happened to be in the right position," he said.

Arkansas missed a pair of free throws and then missed a three before Hicks was fouled. He hit both free throws to wrap it up at 70-65 with 10 seconds left. After forcing a turnover, Justin Jackson went in for a dunk to finish off the scoring.

"Sometimes you need a game like that," Berry said. "We know we can win a game when we're down by five with three minutes to go."

And the Tar Heels did it with their two top scorers - Berry and Jackson - hitting just seven of their 27 shots. Plus Carolina turned the ball over 17 times.

"We were lucky but we were unlucky there for a while," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "I liked how tough and focused we were... I love the way we competed."

Carolina flew out to a commanding 30-13 lead. The Heels were getting the ball to the hoop to go along with three threes.

But a 15-2 Arkansas run, led by Daryl Macon off the bench, pulled the Razorbacks to within four at 32-28.

Carolina still led 38-33 at the half and the Heels extended the lead to nine at the start of the second half.

But Arkansas' defense rattled Carolina and the Heels helped by taking and missing four straight three-point shots. In no time, Arkansas led 50-46. While it was tied twice after that, Carolina didn't take the lead again until that Hicks free throw with 1:44 left.

Meeks led the Tar Heels with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Jackson scored 15 points and stole the ball five times.

The Tar Heels, now 29-7, play Butler in a Sweet 16 game Friday.

Box Score

UNC vs. Arkansas
(UNC Sports Information photo by J.D. Lyon Jr./@tarheel_photo)

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