|#3||Villanova (30-8) ||80|
|#1||North Carolina (33-4) ||89|
Detroit, MI - Despite playing ugly for the first thirty minutes, Ty Lawson and the favored, one-seed UNC Tar Heels (33-4) close on a 27-8 run to come back from a six-point halftime deficit and win the second national semifinal game over surprising three-seed Villanova (30-8) by a score of 89-80. Lawson, the South Region's Most Outstanding Player, scores ten of those 27 points and 27 total for the game to lead his team in one of the most impressive comeback victories in NCAA tournament history.
While a fast pace would usually favor North Carolina, Villanova's efficient running style leads to a 49-43 halftime score with the Wildcats on top. Villanova's fast pace attack is led by Scottie Reynolds, who hit the game winning shot in the regional final against Pitt, and senior Dante Cunningham. The two combine for 26 at the half.
Many would assume that Roy Williams could get his team full of McDonalds' All-Americans to keep up with Villanova for the second half, yet the Tar Heels still find themselves down ten points, 72-62, with 8:04 remaining in the game - an all Big East national final featuring the Wildcats and UConn looking imminent.
Then Lawson takes his game to a level that no one else can match, slicing through the defense to hit a runner and a deep three on back-to-back possessions with 7:53 remaining and the Tar Heels now trailing by 7. The Wildcats would go cold the rest of the way as they would finish 3-of-14 from the field to end the game, while also committing five turnovers during the Tar Heels run. North Carolina on the other hand, hits 9-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-thrown line over that stretch.
Still, it is not until a Lawson jumper off a feed from Wayne Ellington that UNC takes the lead - 80-78 - for the first all game. Two Villanova turnovers and two missed desperation threes later, the dream run would end for the Wildcats and both remaining one-seeds would find themselves in the championship game after being tested in the semifinals.
Villanova's balanced attack includes four players - regional final hero Scottie Reynolds with 20, Dante Cunningham with 15, Reggie Redding with ten and Dwayne Anderson with ten - with double-digit points. Two other players - Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher - score nine. Cunningham and Anderson both grab ten rebounds for double-doubles.
While Lawson's individual performance is remarkable and the Wildcats' balance impressive, North Carolina's final output is unique with all five starters in double figures in points and three, including Lawson, with five assists. Most notably though, may be freshman Ed Davis, whose four second half blocked shots set the defensive tone for UNC's comeback.
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