NCAA News Wire

UNC survives scare from Providence

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo did all he needed to do at the free-throw line in the waning seconds to break the Providence Friars’ hearts.

McAdoo hit a free throw with 3.5 seconds left, then grabbed his own rebound after a miss to lift the No. 6-seeded Tar Heels to a 79-77 victory over No. 11 Providence in a second-round East Region NCAA Tournament game Friday.

It canceled out a brilliant performance by Friars guard Bryce Cotton at the AT&T Center.

Cotton scored 36 points and added eight assists as he and the Friars pushed North Carolina to the brink.

North Carolina guard Brice Johnson missed a jumper in the final 10 seconds, but McAdoo grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul from Cotton.

The Tar Heels out-rebounded Providence, 40-26 and 21-9 on the offensive boards.

“They hammered us on the glass and I think that is how they won the game,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We needed more length on the perimeter and a little more length in the interior.”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams never lost an NCAA Tournament opener entering this year’s tourney. He won at least one game in each of his 23 tournament appearances as a head coach at North Carolina and Kansas.

That record stayed intact, but just barely.

McAdoo scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Johnson added 16 points for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina (24-9) advances to play the winner of Friday’s late game between Iowa State and North Carolina Central on Sunday in San Antonio.

Cotton’s final basket gave Providence (23-12) a three-point lead with 1:21 left.

But Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige hit a critical 3-pointer to tie it at 77 with 1:10 left, setting up McAdoo’s last-second heroics.

“James Michael set a great screen and they didn’t help out so I was able to knock it down,” Paige said.

Cotton scored eight points, going to the basket for a trio of phenomenal layups, to lead the Friars on a 13-4 run midway through the second half. Cotton’s jumper with 8:18 left gave Providence a 60-58 lead, its first lead since early in the first half.

However, Johnson stopped the run with a pair of free throws and had a tip-in to steady North Carolina.

Williams recounted a series of games in which opposing players tallied huge stats against his team. He said Cotton’s ranked high.

“Bryce Cotton played one of the best games I’ve ever seen anybody play against us,” Williams said. “He was truly dominating the game. It was an impressive performance and I said that to him when we were shaking hands.”

Cotton said he left everything he had on the court and was disappointed it wasn’t enough, though he was able to reflect on it as a great contest.

“It was going to go down to the wire because they have a great team with great players,” Cotton said. “Unfortunately we didn’t win it.”

North Carolina began to gain some separation late in the first half.

Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto stole a pass from Providence guard Josh Fortune, then spun away from Fortune on the fast break and threw down a dunk to boost North Carolina to its largest lead of the first half at 37-30.

But Cotton, who finished the first half with 13 points, dug in to score the final four points of the half and cut the Tar Heels’ lead to three at the break.

North Carolina benefited from 11 second-chance points and scored 24 points in the paint on the way to a 39-36 halftime lead. North Carolina forwards Kennedy Meeks and McAdoo each had eight points to lead the Tar Heels in the first half.

NOTES: North Carolina earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history. On the previous two occasions, the sixth-seeded Tar Heels won their first round game, then lost to teams from Texas in the second round, falling to Texas in 2004 and Texas Tech in 1996. … North Carolina, 110-42 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, entered this year’s tourney two wins behind Kentucky (111) for the most wins by

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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