Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Tar Heels blitz Irish to advance to title game

WASHINGTON — With Marcus Paige leading the way, No. 7 North Carolina scored 24 consecutive points over a 9½-minute span bridging halftime and easily beat defending champion Notre Dame 78-47 Friday night for a spot in the ACC tournament final.

UNC (27-6) reached its record 34th ACC title game and fifth in the past six years. But the Tar Heels have gone 0-4 in finals in that span, including a loss to the Fighting Irish a year ago.

Whatever doubts there might have been about the Tar Heels as the NCAAs approach — Could they succeed without much from leading scorer Brice Johnson? Could Paige pull out of his shooting slump? Could the team display enough defensive toughness? — were wiped away during the game-changing run.

In sum, this was relentless and riveting. And it all happened with Johnson on the sideline, sitting with two fouls.

Paige had half of his 16 points during the big, rout-making run, and that might have been the best news of all for UNC. He was supposed to be one of the team's stars but has struggled much of the year, and was shooting less than 30 percent over his previous three games.

"We turned the corner defensively a little bit these past several weeks," Paige said. "We're definitely hitting our stride, but I still don't know what our peak is, which is probably a good thing."

Four others scored in double figures for North Carolina.

Bonzie Colson led Notre Dame with 15 points, while Zach Auguste had six points and 10 rebounds after getting 19 and 22 in a victory over Duke.

By halftime, the Heels held edges of 21-12 in total rebounds and 18-4 on points in the paint.

"We could make our travel plans at halftime," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "Let me put it that way."

The semifinal was tight and tense early, which made sense, given that Notre Dame (21-11) had won the teams' past three meetings. The Heels led only 23-22 with a little more than six minutes left until halftime. Then everything changed.

"Once they saw we weren't going to stop scoring," UNC's Theo Pinson said, "I felt like they (were) just like, 'okay, let's just keep playing and not get embarrassed.' "

Comments
Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

TAMPA — Next victim, please.Shouldn't we just start penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl before every season?It would save us a lot of time.Mind you, the rest of the NFL is fighting Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and this foregone conclus...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pats’ Eric Lee the latest former Bull to reach Super Bowl

Pats’ Eric Lee the latest former Bull to reach Super Bowl

Former Bulls DE Eric Lee has joined one of the more elite fraternities in USF football lore.Lee, who had three tackles for the Patriots in Sunday's AFC Championship Game, becomes the 11th Bulls player to reach a Super Bowl. He's among only eight to r...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Super Bowl LII preview: First look at New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl LII preview: First look at New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Remember when the Bills were 3-1 and in first place in the AFC East? And when the Patriots were 2-2 and allowing 32 points per game? Weird, right?The Bills part, yes. The Patriots part, no.New England had done that before. Four other times in the Bil...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

PHILADELPHIA — Confetti filled the air, fireworks erupted overhead, and fans sang "Fly, Eagles Fly!" No one dared head for the exits. There was too much to celebrate.The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.The makeshift podium hadn’t taken space on Ph...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Updated: 10 hours ago
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sports in brief

Sports in brief

hockeyU.s. men’s olympic Gm, key program builder dies suddenlyLongtime USA Hockey executive and U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team general manager Jim Johannson died unexpectedly Sunday at age 53, shocking the sport less than three weeks before the start...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Healthy Keys back in Aussie quarters

Healthy Keys back in Aussie quarters

MELBOURNE, Australia — Madison Keys continued her strong run through the Australian Open draw, returning to the quarterfinals here for the first time in three years with today’s 6-3, 6-2 win over Caroline Garcia.The U.S. Open finalist is yet to drop ...
Updated: 11 hours ago