Rapid Reaction: UNC 81, Marquette 63
March, 25, 2011
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score
NEWARK, N.J. -- A quick take on North Carolina's 81-63 win over Marquette on Friday night at the Prudential Center:
WHAT IT MEANS: The No. 2-seeded Tar Heels (29-7) overpowered the No. 11-seeded Golden Eagles (22-15) in the NCAA tournament East Regional semifinals. After not making the Big Dance a season ago, North Carolina has secured a spot in this year's Elite Eight. UNC has now won 10 straight Sweet 16 games dating back to 1993, the second-longest such streak in NCAA tournament history (UCLA won 12 straight from 1964 to 1976).
Marquette failed in its bid to make the Elite Eight for the first time since 2003, when it was led by Dwyane Wade. With the Golden Eagles departing, 10 of the 11 Big East teams that qualified for this tournament have been eliminated -- only UConn remains.
THE SKINNY: Marquette hung with North Carolina for the first 10 minutes or so, even taking a 10-8 lead with 12:43 remaining on a Jae Crowder lay-in. But the Tar Heels launched a 19-0 run from that point and ended up outscoring the Golden Eagles 32-5 the rest of the half, taking a 40-15 lead at intermission. Tyler Zeller and John Henson had 12 points apiece for UNC, while Marquette shot 6-for-30 (20 percent), 0-for-8 from 3-point range and committed 12 turnovers. Assist totals at the half? Carolina 9, Marquette 0. Enough said.
(The 15 first-half points was the second-fewest North Carolina has ever allowed in an NCAA tournament game. The fewest? Eight, versus Pittsburgh in 1941.)
The Tar Heels picked up where they left off after the break, with an 11-3 run to take their largest lead of the game, 51-18. With a margin that great, it's tough for a team to continue to go full-throttle, and North Carolina took its foot off the gas. Marquette kept plugging away -- as you'd expect a team coached by Buzz Williams would -- and got the deficit all the way down to 14 with under five minutes remaining. But that's as close as the Golden Eagles came. North Carolina was never threatened.
STAR WATCH: North Carolina's imposing front of line of the 7-foot Zeller, the 6-foot-10 Henson, and the 6-foot-8 Harrison Barnes imposed its will on this undersized Marquette squad. Zeller had a monster game, with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Henson also had a double-double, with 14 points and 12 boards. Barnes had 20 points and nine rebounds, and point guard Kendall Marshall had seven points and seven assists.
For Marquette, four players were in double-figures -- led by reserve forward Davante Gardner, who had 16 points.
NUMBER CRUNCH: Marquette was the No. 33 shooting team in the country coming in, making 46.8 percent from the floor. On Friday night, the Golden Eagles shot just 36.5 percent (23-for-63). Also, Marquette was No. 23 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3-to-1) -- on Friday night it had 18 turnovers, and only eight assists.
WHAT'S NEXT: North Carolina will play No. 4 Kentucky on Sunday afternoon, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
Marquette flies home to Milwaukee -- its season is over.