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UNC standing after roller-coaster finish

The Tar Heels’ John Henson, the ex-Sickles star, grins after swatting an inbounds pass toward a teammate in final seconds.

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The Tar Heels’ John Henson, the ex-Sickles star, grins after swatting an inbounds pass toward a teammate in final seconds.

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

The Hall of Fame coach then endured one stomach-turning play after another in a confusing finish that left the Tar Heels in a familiar spot: the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.

Tyler Zeller had 23 points, Harrison Barnes added 22 and North Carolina survived a closing minute that included numerous controversial calls to beat Washington 86-83. 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 in the first half and five in the second, the second-seeded Tar Heels (28-7) went ahead for good on Barnes' 3-pointer with 4:06 left.

They needed two late free throws from Dexter Strickland and two defensive stops in the final second to advance.

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

The seventh-seeded Huskies (24-11) got within 84-83 on Terrence Ross' 3-pointer with 17.3 seconds left, then North Carolina's Kendall Marshall missed a 1-and-1.

Washington's Venoy Overton missed a runner in the lane, but the ball bounced off North Carolina and out of bounds with 7.4 seconds left. On the inbounds, 6-foot-10 John Henson, the former Sickles standout, knocked away Justin Holiday's pass under the basket. The ball landed in Strickland's hands, and he hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left.

Moments later, Overton, anticipating a foul, launched a halfcourt shot with about three seconds left that fell well short. Instead of letting the shot go out of bounds, Henson touched the ball on the way down to give the Huskies another chance.

But how much time was left?

Replays with the official game clock superimposed on the screen showed there should have been 1.1 or 1.2 seconds to go, giving Washington more time for a final shot. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said that his staff asked referees to review how much time should have been left. They stuck with half a second.

"There's always a lag time between the time the play occurs and the whistle is blown and the clock stops," official Doug Shows told a pool reporter. "By rule, the clock stops when the whistle blows. We were asked to check the time and we verified that it was accurate with the standby official and the clock operator."

Needing to hurry, the Huskies then inbounded the ball to Isaiah Thomas, who shot from the corner. Henson needlessly touched the ball just before it would have hit the rim and the Washington bench erupted for a goaltending call. It wouldn't have mattered: Thomas had his foot on the 3-point line.

MARQUETTE 66, SYRACUSE 62: Darius Johnson-Odom's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left snapped a tie in Cleveland and put the 11th-seeded Golden Eagles (22-14) into the Sweet 16 for the first time in eight years. The winning basket was set up by one of 18 turnovers by Marquette's Big East rival, the third-seeded Orange (27-8), which fell to Butler in the Sweet 16 last year as a No. 1 seed.

OHIO ST. 98, GEORGE MASON 66: David Lighty made all seven of his 3-pointers and had 25 points, Jared Sullinger added 18 and the top-seeded Buckeyes (34-2) made 16 3s to dismantle the eighth-seeded Patriots (27-7).

UNC standing after roller-coaster finish 03/20/11 [Last modified: Sunday, March 20, 2011 10:28pm]
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