Blog: UNC escapes opening round of NCAA Tournament

Joe Mazur Image
Friday, March 20, 2015
UNC Basketball

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WTVD) -- UNC gets to play one more game in this NCAA Tournament. That's more than Baylor, Iowa State and SMU can say.

On a day when the favorites took a beating both in brackets and in Vegas, the Tar Heels did just enough to get by pesky Harvard 67-65. Seventeen turnovers nearly derailed what was supposed to be the start of a great run by North Carolina.

Head coach Roy Williams joked that he needs to buy a lottery ticket.

"That's the luckiest I've ever felt after a basketball game in my entire life. And in saying that, I'm thrilled to keep playing," Williams said.

Brice Johnson was one of many counting his lucky stars.

"We got lucky cause I mean, that shot could have went in. I mean they had a great look at it," he said.

Those in Carolina blue were pondering travel changes with 1:15 left to play when Siyani Chambers hit a three and was fouled by Marcus Paige. The free throw flipped a two point deficit into a two point Crimson lead. But Harvard would miss their final three shots and Justin Jackson connected on a short jumper to tie the game. After Chambers missed another trey with 30 seconds left, JP Toko grabbed a miss, threw it ahead to Paige who assisted Jackson for what would be the game winning uncontested dunk.

Needless to say, there was no dancing in the UNC locker room. There was however, a mixture of anger and relief.

"I can't even celebrate it after that. I understand it's a win but, just me being a competitor, that's not the way we need to play. We can play a lot better than what we did", a frustrated Jonson went on to say.

It was ugly. It should never have been that close. North Carolina will play Saturday for the right to go to the Regional Semifinals. No apologies necessary.

Report a Typo