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Off the cuff: I, for one, don't mind games where the Tar Heels score in the 60s. I also don't get bored watching teams llike Washington State, who play solid defense and are patient on the offensive end. Of course I love baseball too. The idea is to win however you can within the rules - just ask Dean Smith and Phil "Four Corners" Ford. I remember fans of opposing teams nervously biting their fingernails while Carolina executed the Four Corners only to say that it was boring.

Carolina's speed and ability to get up and down the court quickly did come in handy on several occasions and proved to be a difference in the first half. Each team had eight turnovers in the opening half but Carolina was able to convert eight points off the turnovers while the Cougars only scored two off UNC miscues.

With Hansbrough handcuffed in the first half, Carolina players came through with four three pointers. Green got two, Ellington one and Lawson one at the buzzer.

Coach Williams said he wrote on the board before the game that he wanted his team to be tough enough, patient enough and poised enough. In what seems like a conflicting comment, at the half he told his team to relax and attack and be aggressive. Now, how can you relax and attack at the same time? I do know what he meant though. They just needed to remain calm and play their game. And they did.

Coach Williams probably embarrassed Hansbrough a bit at the end of the game and ticked off the NCAA again when he announced that the NCAA dictates that the players speak to the media before they use the bathroom if they have to do a random drug test - and it was Hansbrough's turn to do so. I pictured Hansbrough huddled over with his knees locked together while answering questions. Between that dig and the criticism of the NCAA over the slick logos on the court and the fact that the NCAA won't let Coach Williams use a Coke cup, you have to think NCAA officials want Carolina to lose - but not until reaching the Final Four so they can get all the advantages of the TV ratings.

Kansas fans, like jilted lovers, would like a piece of Ole Roy as well. The two teams are on a collision course for the semi-finals if they continue to win.

Heels 68, Cougars 47
Carolina shows it can play slower-paced game

Several supposed experts thought that if Washington State could keep the powerful UNC offense down to score in the 60s, the Cougars would win. Well, not if the Tar Heels' defense could hold the Cougars to 47 points. (3/27)

Carolina used a first-half offensive spurt, led by Danny Green, to open up a close game and go on to cruise to a 68-47 victory to reach the NCAA Elite Eight.

With Tyler Hansbrough held to no baskets and the Cougars dictating the tempo, Carolina trailed 10-8 seven minutes into the game. That's when Green came in and promptly got a steal under the Heels basket and put it in for two to tie it at 10.

A three by Green put the Heels up 13-12 and then he scored in the lane to make it 15-12. "Danny Green provided a lift off the bench for us," Coach Roy Williams said, adding that Green had not been coming through for the Heels lately so it was especially good to see.

Wayne Ellington, who was cold early, got into the groove over the last seven minutes of the half - first scoring on a short jumper on the secondary fastbreak and then following it up with a fastbreak bucket after a turnover. A three by Ellington with 2:55 left in the half put the Tar Heels up 27-18.

A Ty Lawson three from the left corner at the buzzer sent the Heels to the lockerroom with momentum and a 35-21 lead, the largest advantage of the half.

Hansbrough, who had two free throws in the first half, finally got it going early in the second half, scoring Carolina's first eight points to make it 43-27.

Back to back blocked shots by Alex Stepheson got the partial UNC crowd in Charlotte standing and cheering. Stepheson went on to score the next four points to give the Heels their first 20-point lead of the game at 47-27.

The Cougars got no closer than 18 points the rest of the way as their guards kept missing from outside.

On the other hand, Hansbrough kept coming at Washington State. With less than seven minutes to go, Hansbrough blocked a shot, got the rebound, got down the court quickly, received a pass along the sideline and drove in for two to make it 62-38.

Carolina's largest lead came at 68-42 following a Hansbrough free throw with 2:46 to go. While Hansbrough was stymied and even turned the ball over three times early, he still wound up as the leading scorer for the Heels with 18.

Green finished with 15 while Ellington got 13 and Lawson 12.

Carolina dominated the backboards with a 46-32 rebounding edge. The defense, assisted by poor shooting by the Cougars, held Washington State to just 31.6 percent from the field. "We're tired of hearing that North Carolina can't play defense and that's going to be our weak link," Marcus Ginyard said.

The Tar Heels shot only 43 percent themselves and sank only 13 of 19 free throws. But the tough defense, the patience on offense, the key three-point baskets and Hansbrough's second-half resurgence was too much for the Cougars.

UNC moves to 35-2 and on Saturday will play Louisville (which defeated Tennessee) for the right to go to the Final Four.

Washington State, led by Aron Baynes and Derrick Low with 14 points each, ends its season at 26-9. The game marked the first time that the Cougars have ever played Carolina and their first game in the state of North Carolina.

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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