NCAA Tournament: UNC rolls past Lipscomb in first round

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 16: Theo Pinson
CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 16: Theo Pinson /

UNC avoids an upset in the first round to advance in the NCAA Tournament

The Lipscomb Bisons knew they had to play their best game to upset No. 2 North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That would include playing very good defense and hitting open three-pointers.

And for the 15 or so minutes of the game, the Bisons did just that.

With 5:12 left in the first half, Lipscomb and North Carolina were tied at 31 as the Tar Heels just couldn’t extend a lead. The Bisons played tough defense and were frustrating UNC at times in the game.

But that would be the last time these two teams were tied.

UNC used a 12-3 run to close out the first half and take a 43-34 lead into halftime. This was with Kenny Williams and Luke Maye having their struggles for the Tar Heels in the half.

Williams picked up two early fouls and had to sit on the bench for a bit, while Maye struggled to finish at the rim. Eventually both would turn things around and were a big reason why UNC was able to beat Lipscomb.

The second half was were UNC put the game away.

The Tar Heels came out hot in the half, extending their lead to 18 at 69-51 at the 10:42 mark after a Joel Berry layup. The senior point guard only scored five points in the half but did manage to pass UNC legend Michael Jordan on the program’s all-time scoring list with a three-pointer early in the second half.

From there, UNC cruised as they put away the Bisons and punched their ticket into the Round of 32.

The win also moved head coach Roy Williams to 28-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his career.

Williams led the Tar Heels with 18 points on the game including going 4-of-5 from the three-point line.

Senior Theo Pinson put together another fantastic game as he finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. The forward has been really good for UNC of late and could be a big factor come Sunday.

All five of UNC’s starters finished in double digits with Berry scoring 14, Cam Johnson 12 and Maye 10.

Player of the game

We are going to give this one to Pinson.

It’s the senior’s last NCAA Tournament and he is making the most of it already. He finished the game just three assists shy of a triple-double and was the do-it-all man for the Tar Heels on Friday.

Pinson’s ability to run the point as well as play in the post both offensively and defensively has been huge for the Tar Heels.

Stat of the game

Let’s give this to Roy Williams.

He is now an incredible 28-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, never faltering in that first game. That’s a pretty impressive stat as Williams has had his teams ready to play in the opening round over the years.

What’s next?

The Tar Heels will look to advance to their fourth-straight Sweet 16 when they take on Texas A&M on Sunday in Charlotte. The Aggies beat No. 10 seed Providence in the game before UNC-Lipscomb.

Texas A&M will present a tough task for the Tar Heels as they have a big inside presence. Tyler Davis and Robert Williams are both 6-foot-10 inside and are both averaging 9.0 rebounds per game this season.