A year ago, the North Carolina Tar Heels were favored to beat the Miami Hurricanes at home. They tied the game in the final seconds, only to see Miami hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win. This year, UNC was once again expected to smack down the Canes. Once again, Carolina hit a late three to tie the game. Once again, Miami attempted a three to win at the buzzer.
This time, the Miami dagger did not drop through the bucket. North Carolina rewrote the script in overtime and escaped with an 88-85 win over the Canes. North Carolina moved to 9-1 in the ACC, setting up a showdown with Virginia on Monday night.
UNC head coach Roy Williams knows his team got away with a less-than-stellar performance.
“I feel very fortunate to say the least,” Roy Williams said. “I questioned our kids’ toughness throughout the whole game, and was still doing it at the end. But I think they answered it pretty well down the stretch. They made plays, made shots.”
[bctt tweet=”Roy Williams- I questioned our kids’ toughness throughout the whole game.” username=”CBBToday”]
One such shot came from Carolina’s Luke Maye to tie the game at 77-77 in the final 20 seconds of regulation. Miami’s Chris Lykes — who hit several ridiculous threes in a mano-a-mano showdown with North Carolina’s Coby White down the stretch — came down the court and tried to win the game at the horn for The U, but his triple hit off the side of the rim. Overtime had arrived.
In overtime, UNC’s Kenny Williams — not one of the Tar Heels’ primary offensive threats — broke a tie with 2:08 left to put the home team ahead for good in the Dean Dome.
“It’s always easy when Coach calls a set for you,” Roy Williams said. “That’s an extra bit of confidence from Coach. I had no other choice but to try to come through.”
He did, and as a result, North Carolina avoided this trap game with Virginia coming up on Monday night. College teams look ahead all the time. When a Saturday game is followed by a Wednesday game, it is easier to stay in the present moment, but with Virginia coming into Chapel Hill on Monday, the proximity of that game to this one against Miami created a mental challenge for the Tar Heels. They wobbled and wavered, but they ultimately rescued themselves.
Now they can welcome Virginia and try to keep pace with Duke atop the ACC.
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