Roy Williams and North Carolina come up short vs. Kansas in NCAA tournament
Roy Williams once led Kansas to the NCAA Final Four. The Tar Heels head coach has also won a pair of national titles with his alma mater, but games against KU will always affect Roy Williams.
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Marshall spent another maddening night sitting on the bench in a suit.Skip to next paragraph
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"It wasn't a toughness factor," he said. "It was the fact that I couldn't catch a pass."
This was only the second time Williams had faced Kansas since leaving the school where he spent his first 15 years as a head coach, taking the Jayhawks to the NCAA title game twice.
Though Kansas fans have softened some, Williams was still greeted with a chorus of boos — despite the fact that he remains so deeply committed to the Jayhawks that he refuses to play them out of conference. The games are simply too emotional.
At least this one went better than the first meeting, at the 2008 Final Four, where the Jayhawks walloped North Carolina on the way to winning the title Williams never could at Kansas.
Both teams made impressive recoveries from their ugly wins Friday night, starting on a crisp, torrid pace that had both shooting better than 56 percent at halftime.
"It was pretty there for a while," Williams acknowledged.
Stilman White played well again while filling in for Marshall. The freshman may be a "wacko," as Williams has said affectionately several times the last few days, but the kid knows how to run an offense. He had seven assists Sunday, giving him 13 for the two games without a single turnover.
The Jayhawks seemed on the verge of pulling away several times, only to have Carolina reel them back in. But just before the midway point of the second half, Kansas established some breathing room when Travis Releford scored on a jumper to start an 8-2 run.
Taylor capped the spurt with a swirl-in jumper and a dunk off a turnover by John Henson to give the Jayhawks a 66-61 lead.
"It was anyone's game for the first 32 minutes or whatever," Kansas coach Bill Self said, "and then we got consecutive defensive stops, which we hadn't been able to the first 30 minutes, and made a ton of plays — individual team plays down the stretch."
Tyler Zeller pulled the Tar Heels within two on a putback, and Harrison Barnes made the first of two free throws to make it 68-67 with 3:58 to play. But Johnson, shooting almost 52 percent in the tournament, drained that 3 from NBA range to start the decisive run.
"It was a four-point game. It quickly became nine," said Zeller, who had 12 points. "Once they started making free throws, it hit double digits and we knew time was running out."
On the game and on their season.
White was nearly in tears in the North Carolina locker room while the Jayhawks cut down the nets. His eyes were still puffy at the postgame news conference, while Zeller tried to explain what went wrong down the stretch and Williams tried to keep his own emotions in check.
"At the end of the day, all I want to do is win and get to the Final Four in New Orleans," White said. "We didn't quite make it."