Back-To-Back Offensive Rebounds Won UNC Basketball a Final Four Game, But How?

The 2017 National Semifinal between the UNC Basketball program and Oregon was a classic that came down to what North Carolina does best... rebounding.
Oregon v North Carolina
Oregon v North Carolina / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Every UNC Basketball fan remembers the memorable run to the 2017 National Championship game. The National Championship was great because it finished off the run of "Redemption" from the heartbreaking season one year earlier. However, the previous two games in the NCAA Tournament had their moments as well.

In the Elite Eight versus Kentucky, Luke Maye added to the legacy of North Carolina basketball and big shots by hitting a buzzer beater to knock off the Wildcats 75-73. In the FInal Four, the Oregon Ducks gave the Tar Heels another strong challenge. Former UNC Basketball player and 2017 National Champion Theo Pinson sat down with former Oregon Duck Jordan Bell to discuss what happened in the game's final seconds.

Oregon trailed 77-76 with 5.2 seconds remaining and fouled UNC Basketball big man Kennedy Meeks to send him to the charity stripe for two free throws. Meeks could put the Tar Heels up three; however, he missed both attempts short.

Pinson was the hero, though, as he was able to get a hand on the ball to tip it out to Joel Berry and keep the possession in favor of the Tar Heels with 4.0 seconds left. In the Run Your Race podcast, Pinson and Bell walk through the sequence of events from those final seconds, including just how much Roy Williams believed in tipping the ball out on rebounds.

Pinson discussed how Bell never touched him leading to his ability to get a hand on the Meeks' missed free throw to get the ball into Berry's hands and send the Tar Heels best foul shooter back to the line with a chance to go up three. Berry though, had the same struggles at the foul line that Meeks did.

Bell had another opportunity to secure a box-out and get a defensive rebound with his team trailing by just one when Berry missed the second free throw attempt. This time though, Bell had to box out Meeks, who is just slightly bigger than Pinson. Bell couldn't hold his ground though and Meeks was able to get to the board and kick it out to Pinson to dribble out the clock.

Roy Williams coached teams made a living by dominating their opponent in the rebounding category. That Saturday night in Phoenix, Arizona, was two of the biggest offensive rebounds in program history as it sent the Tar Heels to the National Championship, and 48 hours later, they had won their seventh National Title.

Pinson and Bell both agreed that if Oregon could have secured one of those two rebounds, they fully believe the Ducks would have scored the game-winning basket on the other end when trailing by just one point. As history would have it, though, that wasn't the case. The Tar Heels survived 77-76 on two offensive rebounds.

You can listen to the full episode with Theo Pinson and Jordan Bell on the Run Your Race podcast by clicking here.

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