Saturday , Mar , 24 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Tar Heels use huge second-half run to top USC

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Brandan Wright poured in 21 points
and grabbed nine rebounds as North Carolina used a dominating run in the
second half to defeat Southern California, 74-64, in the East Regional
semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Wayne Ellington added 12 points for the top-seeded Tar Heels (31-6), who will
battle second-seeded Georgetown on Sunday in the Elite Eight. The Hoyas
edged Vanderbilt 66-65 in the earlier East Regional contest on Friday.

“I personally never lost faith in our kids,” said North Carolina head coach
Roy Williams. “I had a great deal of confidence in my team and I knew we
wouldn’t give up. I am as proud of these kids as I can be.”

Tyler Hansbrough had a game to forget with just five points on 1-of-6
shooting from the field for North Carolina, which rattled off an impressive
22-2 run in which 18 straight points were scored in the second half en route
to victory.

“You know, when our team can make spurts like that and, you know, play well
enough on defense, we really are going to be hard to stop,” said Wright. “Our
guys did a great job at, you know, hitting the glass and, you know, hitting
the boards on the defensive end by finishing the possession. That was great
for us.”

Taj Gibson netted 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the fifth-seeded
Trojans (25-12), who led by as many as 16 points during two different
occasions.

Nick Young and Lodrick Stewart each had 15 points in the loss.

Holding a nine-point lead at halftime, USC opened the second stanza on a 7-2
spurt to increase its advantage to 49-35. Young started things with a jumper,
Gibson followed with a slam dunk and Stewart capped the run by draining a
trey.

The Tar Heels battled back in a big way and put together a 22-2 run to take
the lead at 67-59 with around 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Marcus Ginyard netted
five consecutive points during the surge while Wright contributed nine points.

During North Carolina’s game-changing run, USC was held without a point for
over eight minutes.

The Trojans were able to make it a six-point game at 70-64 with around three
minutes remaining as Gabe Pruitt drove hard through the lane and scooped in
two points.

With 48.5 seconds remaining, Gibson was called for an offensive foul and USC
head coach Tim Floyd was whistled for a technical foul after throwing papers
onto the court after arguing the foul on Gibson.

Danny Green then sunk three straight shots from the charity stripe to seal the
victory for North Carolina.

“Well, North Carolina played exceedingly well in the second half for about a
15-minute stretch,” said Floyd. “We are very proud of our basketball team.
They’ve been terrific. We have been a team that has been free of distractions.
They love each other. They have played extremely hard. They prepare hard. Real
proud of where they’ve come.”

The speedy Trojans got off to a quick start and went up 18-7 about seven
minutes into the game after Young drained a three-pointer from the left
corner.

Despite North Carolina chipping away at USC’s lead, the Trojans ended the half
on an 8-0 run to take a 42-33 advantage into the locker room.

Gibson had 12 points and nine rebounds at the break while Young added 11 for
USC, which shot 50 percent from the field.

The Trojans held Hansbrough to just two points in the first half.

Game Notes

North Carolina leads the all-time series against Southern California at
8-1…The Tar Heels have now reached the Elite Eight for the second time
during Williams’ tenure…Ginyard finished with 10 points and nine rebounds
for North Carolina…The Tar Heels had 46 rebounds, 20 of which came off the
offensive glass…Pruitt had 13 points and dished out seven assists in the
loss…USC committed 18 turnovers.

NCAROLINA USC