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Tar Heels survive scare, beat Washington

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina's Roy Williams woke up Sunday morning feeling ill.

The Hall of Fame coach then had to endure one stomach-turning play after another in a dramatic and confusing finish that left the Tar Heels in a familiar spot: the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.

Tyler Zeller scored 23 points, Harrison Barnes added 22 and North Carolina survived a closing minute that included numerous questionable calls to beat Washington, 86-83, in the East Regional. The Tar Heels are into the second weekend for a record 24th time.

"I told the kids to take care of the old man, and they did a good job," Williams said. "I feel a heck of a lot better now."

Rallying from deficits of 11 points in the first half and five in the second, the second-seeded Tar Heels (28-7) went ahead for good on Barnes' three-pointer with 4:06 left. But they needed two late free throws from Dexter Strickland and two defensive stops in the final second to advance to play Marquette Friday in Newark, N.J.

"For our lack of experience," Barnes said, "we make up for that with heart."

Terrence Ross scored 19 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning added 14 for the seventh-seeded Huskies (24-11), who couldn't overcome a subpar game from star guard Isaiah Thomas and a hostile crowd to pull off the upset in a fast-paced game full of entertaining plays and mental miscues.

"All of our guys fought and did so many things right that could have enabled us to win the ballgame," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said, "but we didn't get it done."

Washington, which came in with as many NCAA Tournament wins (18) as North Carolina has Final Four appearances, nearly pulled off a dramatic comeback in a virtual road game 2,800 miles from home.

Two years removed from a national championship, North Carolina won its 25th straight NCAA Tournament game in its home state a year after being relegated to the NIT. That's probably why even a stomach bug couldn't hide Williams' smile.

New York Sports