UNC Survives Villanova's Rally to Win 78-71

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 22:  P.J. Hairston #15 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and the bench celebrate in the second half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 22, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You can usually expect some ugly games in the Round of 64, but this one could very well top them all. No. 8-seed North Carolina had to overcome 18 turnovers to top No. 9-seed Villanova, 78-71.

'Nova didn't impress either, giving up 16 turnovers on the night.

In the first half, it appeared North Carolina was just going to run away with the game, building a 34-15 lead with 5:18 remaining. Strickland's jumper at that mark would be the last field goal the Tar Heels would score in the half.

They managed just three free throws, allowing Villanova to cut the lead to 37-29 at the half.

The lackadaisical play by the Tar Heels continued for the final 20 minutes, and JayVaughn Pinkston put the 'Cats on top with a layup at the 14:25 mark.

The Wildcats continued to play hard-nosed defense, and even broke out the full-court press. But P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock got hot for a few minutes, allowing the Tar Heels to pull away again.

The duo hit treys on three-consecutive possessions to give UNC a 63-54 lead with 5:13 to go. 'Nova was never able to get the lead back.

In the end, it was the difference in three-point shooting that won this game. Both teams took 21 of them, but the Wildcats were only able to sink four. Carolina knocked down 11 of them.

Hairston nailed five of those, and led all scorers with 23 points. James Michael McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and Marcus Paige added 17, 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Villanova also had four players in double figures.

Pinkston led the way with 20 points and eight boards. Darrun Hilliard helped keep Villanova in the game with his 18 points and six rebounds. Mouphtaou Yarou contributed with 18 points and eight boards.

Ryan Arcidiacono was never able to get in his groove, though. He scored 10 points, but was just 2-of-11 from the floor.

Carolina will move on and possibly play Kansas (barring an upset by Western Kentucky) in the most highly-touted matchup of this tournament thus far. Roy Williams left Kansas for North Carolina, and he doesn't have too many fans in the area anymore.

We should be in for a good one on Sunday.