Monday, March 24, 2008

OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE BIGGER, FASTER AND STRONGER THAN THEY APPEAR

The last time a team scored 100 points in back-to-back opening round NCAA tournament games it was Loyola Marymount pouring in 260 in 1990. The Lions and the Tar Heels now have an exclusive club going with UNC scoring 222 in 1987 and 221 on Sunday and Friday. The fourth spot is also held by Loyola Marymount’s 1988 squad with 216 points.

The Heels’ two game winning margin of 70 points was more than UConn, South Alabama, Georgetown, UNLV, Duke, Notre Dame and Pitt could muster in losing second round games, and more than Washington State, Michigan State and UCLA could produce while winning second round games. TAH's crack research staff (Young A.T. putting in overtime on Easter Sunday) pointed out that it took UCLA 40 minutes to muster 51 points against Texas A&M, while UNC ran up 52 against Mount St. Mary’s and Arkansas in 16:59 and 21:10 respectively. That’s some crazy math.

Against the over matched Hogs, Wayne Ellington scored 20 points and UNC raced to a double-digit early lead and cruised in from there. Ty Lawson had 19 points and seven assists for the Tar Heels (34-2), who followed their first-round rout of Mount St. Mary's with another impressive offensive display.

North Carolina will face fourth-seeded Washington State on Thursday night in the same arena where they won the ACC tournament last weekend. The Tar Heels are 21-3 when playing NCAA games in the state of North Carolina.

Carolina scored the first nine points, led 51-26 at halftime and shot 68 percent for the game. The ninth-seeded Razorbacks (23-12), which upset Vanderbilt and Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta last week, never got closer than 21 points after the break.

It marked only the third time in the past 25 years that the Tar Heels won both of their first two NCAA games by 20 or more points. The only other teams to do it -- 1993 and 2005 -- went on to win the national championship. The Tar Heels also tied the school's single-season record for victories, matching the '93 team and the 1998 squad that reached the Final Four in San Antonio.

Making the win even more impressive was that the Tar Heels didn't need a big day from All-American Tyler Hansbrough to do it. He finished with 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting while also going 5-for-7 from the line, which allowed him to surpass Duke's Christian Laettner for the most made free throws in a career for an ACC player.

Deon Thompson finished with 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting for North Carolina, and frontcourt mate Alex Stepheson had 10 on 5-for-5 shooting. And by the end, coach Roy Williams was able to empty his bench and give his regulars plenty of time to cheer from the sideline again.

The best Carolina basket of the day was a three point bomb by Marc Campbell. His hoop rounded out the scoring for the entire roster for the opening round games. No other basket got bigger cheers from the Tar Heel bench.

Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second round of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regionals on March 23, 2008 at RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Wayne Ellington #22 of the North Carolina Tar Heels attacks the basket against Patrick Beverley #21 and Sonny Weems #13 of the Arkansas Razorbacks during the 2nd round of the East Regional. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Danny Green #14 of the North Carolina Tar Heels blocks Gary Ervin #0 of the Arkansas Razorbacks. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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