Creighton entered Sunday’s game against North Carolina with an offense capable of hanging with the Midwest’s No. 1 seed and with the confidence to match.
The Tar Heels ran, shot and overwhelmed the eight-seeded Bluejays 87-73 on Sunday, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season. North Carolina made 50 percent of its field-goal attempts, hit 8 of 16 from beyond the arc – including its first shot of the game, a 3 from Reggie Bullock – that was an indication of what was to come.
Creighton (29-6) tried to keep pace, even leading 12-11 six minutes into the game. It was aggressive around the rim and physical on defense – not usually the case for the offensive-minded Jays – especially from center Gregory Echenique, who refused to give ground in the post to UNC post players Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
But when Henson got smacked on his sore left wrist, got called for a technical foul for yelling at Creighton’s Grant Gibbs for doing it, the Heels took off.
They used a 12-4 to create space, found more room to shoot when the game opened up a bit and was never really in danger from that point. Once Zeller and Henson settled in – they combined for 16 rebounds, five blocks and 24 points – Creighton’s offense hit a wall.
It wasn’t a perfect performance by UNC (31-5), but it gave an indication that if any team has the talent and offensive skill to hang with Kentucky, it’s this one. If point guard Kendall Marshall, who reportedly hurt his right wrist (he’s a lefty) vs. Creighton, has the Heels humming, watch out.
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