May’s Day: UNC downs Illinois to win title
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – Sean May scored 26 points and grabbed 10
rebounds to lead North Carolina to its first national championship in 12
years, as the Tar Heels defeated Illinois, 75-70, in the final of the NCAA
Tournament at the Edward Jones Dome.
May, celebrating his 21st birthday, shot 10-of-11 from the field for North
Carolina, which captured its fourth national title and first since 1993.
Raymond Felton added 17 points and seven assists for the Tar Heels (33-4), who
held off the Illini to give head coach Roy Williams his first national title
in 17 years as a head coach, but only his second at his alma mater.
“It’s a great moment for these youngsters, who have these thrills and memories
for the rest of their lives,” said Williams. “I told (Illini coach) Bruce
Weber afterwards that his team was great, I’ve been in his position before,
and his team had an excellent season.”
“This doesn’t mean that he is a better coach than he was yesterday,” said May,
who was named MOP of the game, of his coach. “But it means now you can name
him as one of the great coaches because he has won the championship.”
Luther Head had 21 points for Illinois (37-2), which failed to win its first
national championship in school history. Deron Williams added 17 points for
the Illini, who rallied in the second half only to fall short at the end.
After North Carolina held a 13-point halftime lead and extended that to 15
points early in the second half, the Illini began to comeback. Felton’s three-
pointer two minutes into the second half gave the Tar Heels a 47-32 lead.
Then, trailing 49-35, Illinois got back into the game.
Deron Williams and Dee Brown spearheaded a 13-2 run that made it a four-point
contest. Brown had five points and Williams had eight during the burst, which
he capped with a three-pointer 5 1/2 minutes into the frame to make it a 51-48
The Tar Heels responded and built its lead back to double digits, 65-55, when
May hit a pair of free throws with 8:51 left.
However, a 10-0 run by the Illini tied things up at 65-65 with 5:34 remaining.
Brown started the run with a bucket and capped it with a pair of free throws,
getting Illinois to the closest it had been since leading 17-16 midway through
the first half.
Felton responded on the other end by hitting a three-pointer on Carolina’s
next possession. Carolina then went ahead 70-67 with 4:21 left on two May free
Head, however, drained a three-pointer with 2:39 on the clock to tie the game
North Carolina, though, wouldn’t allow the Illini to take the lead. Each team
came up empty on its ensuing possession and Marvin Williams’ tipin of a Rashad
McCants miss with 1:28 remaining gave the Tar Heels the lead for good, 72-70.
Head and Deron Williams came up empty on the other end. Felton then hit one-
of-two from the line for a three-point lead. Head missed a three-pointer that
would’ve tied the game with 20 seconds left and Felton iced the title with a
pair of free throws 10 seconds later.
North Carolina shot 52 percent for the game compared to just 39 percent for
Illinois. The Tar Heels also outscored the Illini 38-18 in the paint.
“This season was a success,” said Deron Williams. “Our goal was to get to the
Final Four and we did, but it leaves a bad taste in our mouth to lose this.”
The game was tight through the first 15-plus minutes until an 8-0 run by the
Tar Heels made it a 10-point game. A pair of free throws by Jack Ingram with
4:58 on the clock drew Illinois within 27-25. However, a Felton three-pointer
10 seconds later began the run, which ended with a McCants layup with 3:20 on
A Deron Williams jumper got the Illini to within 35-27, but McCants scored the
final five points of the half to give the Tar Heels a 13-point advantage going
into the locker room. McCants’ three-pointer with 47 seconds left in the half
gave his club a 40-27 cushion.
McCants ended with 14 points, scoring all of his points in the first half.
Carolina shot a blistering 16-of-29 from the floor in the opening half for 55
percent, while Illinois shot just 10-of-37 from the field for 27 percent.
“Unfortunately, they got off to a quick start and big lead, shooting the ball
well in the first half,” said Brown. who ended with 12 points and seven
The 13-point halftime deficit was the largest for the Illini this season…UNC
ended the season 26-0 when leading at halftime…UNC alum Michael Jordan was
in attendance…This was the first 1 vs. 2 in the championship since 1975 when
UCLA beat Kentucky…Roy Williams improved to 4-0 in St. Louis during the NCAA
Tournament in his coaching career…May’s father, Scott, became the third
father-son combination to win the national title. Scott May won the title in
1976 with Indiana and was also named the MOP, also scoring 26
points…Illinois starting forward James Augustine fouled out with 6:49
remaining without scoring a point. The MVP of the Big Ten Tournament played
only nine minutes because of foul trouble…The Illini would’ve set an NCAA
record for wins with a victory…Roger Powell had nine points and 14 boards
for the Illini…Jack Ingram had 11 points off the bench for Illinois.