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Off the cuff: The Tar Heels are officially the hunted now. There were a number of favorites going into the tournament but with two 100-point games in a row, it seems everybody is saying UNC is the favorite.

Point guards Ty Lawson and Quentin Thomas combined for 21 assists and no turnovers in the first two rounds in Raleigh. Carolina had only seven turnovers against the Razorbacks - that was the first time this year that the Heels had fewer than 10 turnovers in consecutive games. UNC had nine against Mount St. Mary's.

But the Tar Heels aren't letting their success get to their heads."We've got another two-game tournament to play next weekend," Ginyard said. "And that's what we're focused on right now. At this point, this game does not mean anything to us any more. This is just not where this team wants to end up."

Kudos to Coach Roy Williams for speaking out against those hideously large and dangerous NCAA logos on center court. I know Elliington slipped on Friday and I saw Ginyard, Hansbrough and Green slip on Sunday. Hansbrough went down hard. Ginyard's slip led to an Arkansas basket. Coach Willams said that the same organization that says he can't drink out of a Coke cup "can't say let's stop putting the stupid logos on the floor." He went on to say, "They need to rip the dadgum things up."

Speaking of which, I have one of the old NCAA logo stickers (at least three-quarters of one) that I ripped up off the floor after the 1981 NCAA tournament. It is much smaller and was not on the center court at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. I don't remember anyone slipping on that sticker but I do remember Al Wood scoring 39 points on that floor. Of course Indiana beat the Heels in the finals.

I think the 1981 and 1982 seasons could be a bit like the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The Heels were defeated by Indiana in '81 and it left a bitter taste and motivated them to win the NCAA tournament in 1982 (that and getting the monkey off Dean Smith's back for never having won the NCAAs). This year the Heels are feeding off last year's lost to Georgetown. You can see the focus and you can see the melding together as a team. It can change on a dime but for right now all the Heels seem to be playing at or near the top of their games.


Heels 108, Razorbacks 77
Carolina advances to Sweet 16 with 31-point rout

UNC busted out to a 9-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes, prompting Arkansas to call a timeout but the Razorbacks didn't have enough timeouts to slow the fast-breaking Heels who routed them 108-77 to reach the NCAA tourney's Sweet 16. (3/23)

The Heels never seemed to slow up - not even after slipping on the slick NCAA logo at mid-court and not even after substituting starters. In fact, even Marc Campbell, who was the only player who failed to score in the previous game against Mount St. Marys, got into the act this time with a three pointer that closed out the game's scoring with 20 seconds left.

That got a huge ovation from the crowd, which was egging him on to shoot everytime he touched the ball, but it was far from the only huge ovation as the Tar Heels put on a clinic dominating a good Arkansas club.

Ty Lawson set the tone by pushing the ball quickly up the court and draining jumpers. During the first minute, Lawson sank a three and less than five minutes into the game drilled another one from the top of the key to give the Heels a 16-4 advantage.

Arkansas coach John Pelfrey had wanted to keep the Carolina fans out of the game with his team making a quick, early run. "It's a game of runs and I'm still waiting for ours," he said. "They were just better than us in every way."

The Tar Heels got production from a slew of players. Will Graves, for instance, popped in a three with 11:50 left in the first half to give the Heels a 26-11 lead, at the time the largest of the game. Deon Thompson converted one of his patented half hooks moments later to up the lead to 24 at 35-11.

A Wayne Ellington follow gave the Heels a 25-point lead before a Quentin Thomas fast-break bucket, after a blocked shot on the other end of court, gave the Heels their largest lead of the half at 51-24.

Up 51-26 at the start of the second half, Tyler Hansbrough scored the first four points in dramatic fashion - the first on an alley-oop dunk and the second on an outside jumper - to put the Heels up by 29 at 55-26.

Arkansas cut it to 21 as they hit eight of their first 10 shots of the second half but following a lecture by Coach Roy Williams the Heels clamped back down on defense and quickly upped the lead.

Lawson blew by defenders on a cross-over dribble move to get a layup and was fouled. After converting the free throw, the Heels were back up by 25 with 14:20 left and the lead just grew from there.

The partisan crowd in Raleigh's RBC Center got rocking and chanted "Q" after a slick pass from Quentin Thomas ended with a left-handed layup by Thompson to put the Heels up by 30 for the first time at 81-51.

Not long after Hansbrough became the third UNC player to slip and fall on the slick NCAA logo and after the Tar Heels had worked the lead up to 36, Coach Williams took out the starters.

While Ellington led the Heels with 20 points and Lawson tallied 19 and Hansbrough scored 17, the statistical story of the game well may have been two other players. Thompson went eight of eight for 16 points in 21 minutes and fellow big man Alex Stepheson went five of five for 10 points in 20 minutes. The perfect 13 of 13 for the two was the main reason the Heels shot a sizzling 68 percent from the floor.

The Tar Heels are now 34-2 and play Washington State in the East Regional semi-finals on Thursday night in Charlotte. Arkansas, which got 19 points from Sonny Weems, ends its season with a 23-12 mark.

Check out the game box score and a game photo gallery.
Take a look at other game articles.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on WRAL.com by clicking here.

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