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Meeks shoots, and rebounds, and saves the day for Tar Heels

He matched his career high with 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as North Carolina won 77-76.

All part of a career night for the North Carolina senior, who was on the bench past year when Villanova devastatingly ended the Tar Heels' chance at a title with a 3-pointer at the buzzer. That sent the Tar Heels (32-7) back to the national championship game for the second straight season to face fellow 1-seed Gonzaga, putting them on the doorstep of their season-long goal to return and win. With 5.2 seconds left, Carolina's big man went to the line with a chance to give the Heels a three-point lead.

The Tar Heels went to their bread and butter in the second half, pounding the ball inside to Meeks and attacking the offensive glass.

In a pregame interview, OR coach Dana Altman made it clear his team is not better without injured frontcourt player Chris Boucher, a shot-blocking and rebound presence that was finally felt in a game against a superior rebounding team in North Carolina on Saturday night.

OR went up 30-22 with 4:08 to go on a Dylan Ennis 3-pointer, but the Ducks committed four turnovers the rest of the half as the Tar Heels ended on 17-6 run to lead 39-36 at the break.

Jackson added 22 points of his own, including four 3-pointers that helped the Tar Heels build and hang onto their second-half lead. He scored North Carolina's first four points, giving him 18 points - his most ever in an NCAA Tournament game - with 17:56 left in the contest.

Kennedy Meeks saved the game. "That's the bottom line", Williams said Saturday night after the Tar Heels beat OR 77-76. Bell had 13 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks in the loss. "And so we've got to get, whoever has the scout, we've got to get used to the scout a little bit".

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North Carolina carried the momentum into the second half, as it answered a quick OR bucket to open the period with seven straight points.

"I just didn't want to lose another game off a winning shot", said Joel Berry II, who missed the free throw that Meeks tore away from Jordan Bell to ice the game.

The 66-year-old Williams called Few one of his best friends in coaching and said he was stressed out hoping that his poker buddy would finally break through and reach the Final Four this year. They'll play against Gonzaga, the top seed in the West, on Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

"We're relieved", Williams said. His 21 points came on 11 shots from the field and he only went 3 for 7 from behind the arc.

Jackson and Meeks made up for poor offensive nights from Berry (2 of 14 shooting), Isaiah Hicks ( 1 of 12) and Pinson (2 of 8). Dillon Brooks who led OR is scoring for the season fouled out with 1:32 left in the contest after scoring 10 points, six of which were from the free throw line.

Williams will be coaching in the Final Four for the ninth time, including five appearances with Carolina.

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