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Off the cuff: Carolina really won that game over a four-minute span in the first half. Sure, it got up to a 20-point lead and down to 10. But when the Tar Heels scored 14 points from about the 14:50 mark to the 10:50 mark of the first half, it took the game for a one-point game to a 15-point game and it stayed five points of that the rest of the way.

Leading just 13-12, Isaiah Hicks drove the baseline for a dunk. Then Justin Jackson hit a floater. Joel Berry followed with a three from the left sidelines and then he hit a pair of free throws. Luke Maye followed with UNC's fourth three of the game and Berry finished off the run by driving aggressively to the hoop for two. UNC 27, Butler 12. That, in essence was the game.

Had the Heels not drained eight threes in the first half though, it could have been a different story. The Tar Heels shot well throughout the game but their free throw shooting was below par (just 21 of 33).

Carolina certainly has the motivation to win the national championship. The Heels next game is against Kentucky, a team that beat UNC 103-100 in a game where Malik Monk went wild with 47 points. Not only does Carolina want revenge for that one but the players are still thinking about the way they lost the title game last year.

Q. Is there any extra motivation this weekend knowing that last year you were one shot away from winning the National Title?
JOEL BERRY II: Yeah, I think there's a little motivation, and we always think about last year regardless of the game. We got to where we wanted to get, we just didn't finish it. But I mean, it's always on our mind, but just regardless of that, we go into each and every game just thinking about that game, and we can't look too far ahead. We've got to play the game that we're about to play. And so it's a little motivation there, but we've got to be able to play Sunday, to be able to get to where we want to get.

Tar Heels 92, Butler 80
Berry back, Maye shines in Heels' win

North Carolina's Joel Berry, hampered by a bad ankle, returned to form and sub Luke Maye had his best game as the Tar Heels stopped Bulter 92-80 to advance to the Elite Eight. (3/24)

Berry hit from outside and drove to the basket to lead all scorers with 26 points. His seven points during a 14-0 run early in the game helped open it up. Carolina led just 13-12 when the Heels went on the run.

A Maye three gave the Tar Heels their biggest lead of the first half at 30-14 midway through the half.

Carolina hit eight of its nine threes in the first half to take a commanding 52-36 lead at the break.

Maye hit three of them and finished the game with a career high 16 points and 12 rebounds. "I just wanted to get to an open spot and my teammates found me," Maye said.

In the second half, the Heels got the lead as high as 20 several times - the first being a Berry drive by layup that made it 63-43 with 14:38 to go.

A 13-4 Butler run midway through the half cut the lead to 11. It got as close as 10 at 76-66 with six minutes to go as the Heels had troubles from the foul line (at one point going just six of 14 in the second half).

A pair of free throws by Nate Britt, in a one-and-one situation, seemed to right the ship and the game never seemed to be in doubt again.

"It's a game of runs," said Justin Jackson, who scored 24. "We tried to stay focused and stay poised, as coach likes to say.

Though Jackson and Berry scored more than Maye, they both gave him a lot of credit for the win. Jackson said he was huge and the Heels need him to keep it up. Berry said Maye gives the Heels an advantage to have a big guy who can step back for a three or open up the spacing to allow the guards to drive.

Coach Roy Williams didn't seem surprised by Maye's effort. "What Luke did today, we see a lot at practice," he said. "He gave us a big lift."

Coach Williams said Maye is a good shooter and rebounder with a lot of savvy. "But he's going to be successful because of what he has in his brain and his heart," he said.

The other big guys didn't contribute as much offensively but Kennedy meeks did haul in 11 rebounds. Meanwhile Isaiah Hicks fouled out with nine points in 17 minutes of play.

The Tar Heels shot 54.4 percent for game compared to 43.5 for the Bulldogs. Plus, the Heels outrebounded Butler 38-26.

Carolina, now 30-7, play the winner of UCLA-Kentucky on Sunday afternoon.

Box Score

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