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2009 NCAA Tournament: South Regional Elite 8 Recap

North Carolina continues to roll, tops Oklahoma to advance to Final Four


South Regional Championship @ FedEx Forum - Memphis

No. 1 North Carolina (32-4) 72 - No. 2 Oklahoma (30-6) 60

Key Moment: North Carolina seized control early as it jumped out to a 15-4 lead and never trailed.

High Point Scorers: North Carolina -- Ty Lawson 19 Oklahoma -- 23

Analysis: The one truism in the NCAA tournament is that teams win with guard play. North Carolina has one of the best in senior Ty Lawson. The junior was brilliant with 19 points, five assists and one turnover. Oklahoma's Willie Warren scored 18 points but he didn't have the help he needed from Austin Johnson and Tony Crocker. Those two combined for six points.

And that's why you have the Tar Heels making their second consecutive Final Four appearance, the 18th in school history and the most in NCAA history -- UCLA has also made 18 but the 1980 appearance was vacated because of NCAA violations.

Ironically, the much-anticipated matchup in the low post between North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Oklahoma's Blake Griffin really was one-sided. Hansbrough scored only eight points. Griffin, who faced a heavy dose of double teams, presented his usual double double of 23 points and 16 rebounds (30th of the season).

But it appeared the idea for the Tar Heels was to go after the Oklahoma Guards and make them beat them. Oklahoma was only 2-of-19 (10.5 percent) from 3-point range and missed its first 15 attempts. Although Oklahoma got the slower pace it wanted, North Carolina also revealed it could go into the halfcourt approach if need be. When you have someone like Lawson, it makes all the difference.

North Carolina faces Villanova in the second national semifinal at 8:47 EDT on Saturday.



By Kevin Lonnquist
DFN Sports Senior Staff Writer

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