Heels earn sixth trip to Maui final

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley dunks between Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte and Juwan Evans during the first half of the Tar Heels’ 107-75 victory over the Cowboys on Tuesday in a Maui Jim Maui Invitational semifinal game at the Lahaina Civic Center. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

LAHAINA — North Carolina came to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational with one thing in mind. The Tar Heels are one step from that goal.

North Carolina reached the tournament final with 107-75 win over Oklahoma State in Tuesday’s last game at the Lahaina Civic Center.

The Associated Press’ fourth-ranked team will face No. 16 Wisconsin for the title today.

“We had to play extremely hard and extremely intelligent and really well to have a chance,” said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, whose team improved to 6-0. “We did, for the most part, did that all night.”

North Carolina has outscored the Cowboys (4-1) and Chaminade 211-136 in the first two rounds.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams yells to his players during the second half. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The three-time champions won a Maui semifinal by their highest margin ever, surpassing a 29-point victory over Oregon in 2008. The Tar Heels, who are in the title game for a sixth time, scored 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since 2011.

The lead reached its apex at 107-73 with just over a minute to play.

“I think our coaches did a great job, like coach said at pregame meal, they weren’t trying to scare us, they were just trying to get us prepared for what was to come and we knew that they were trying to hit us first,” said Joel Berry II, who led six Tar Heels in double-figure scoring with 24 points. “So we had to hit them first and I think we did a good job of doing that.”

The Tar Heels led by 13 at halftime, and the advantage reached 20 less than three minutes into the second half — it was not less than 19 after that.

Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans had 30 points, 20 in the first half, but the team’s next-leading scorer was Lindy Waters, with 10.

The Cowboys’ Jawun Evans dribbles upcourt in the second half. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Evans shot 13-for-25 from the field, while his teammates combined for a 13-for-47 performance.

Evans has 65 points in two games and needs 29 in the third-place game today against Georgetown to break the 25-year-old tournament scoring record  set by Chaminade’s George Gilmore.

Evans banged heads with North Carolina’s Kenny Williams with 10:26 to play — Evans remained in the game, while Williams exited.

“Whoo, boy, did they punch us in the mouth early and it was an uphill battle from there,” said Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood. “All the credit — that’s a very, very good basketball team. If we play a better basketball team this year than them, boy, I hope it’s deep into March.”

The Tar Heels shot 37-for-64 (57.8 percent) for the second day in a row. Justin Jackson finished with 22 points, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley each had 13, Nate Britt added 12 and Kennedy Meeks had 10. Meeks, Jackson and Hicks each had eight rebounds to lead the Tar Heels to a 44-32 advantage on the boards.

The Tar Heels’ Kennedy Meeks goes up for a shot. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“We were diving on the floor, we were getting after it, we were taking them out of what they wanted to do,” Berry said. “We did a great job of preparing, getting our minds right for what was to come.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.


Hammonds 2-9 2-2 6, Solomon 1-4 2-2 4, Waters 3-8 2-2 10, Forte 0-3 2-2 2, Evans 13-25 2-4 30, McGriff 0-3 2-2 2, Lienhard 1-2 0-0 2, Dziagwa 1-2 2-2 5, Averette 2-5 1-2 5, Underwood 0-0 0-0 0, Carroll 3-8 1-3 8, Shine 0-2 1-2 1, N’Guessan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-72 17-23 75.



Meeks 3-9 4-7 10, Hicks 6-9 1-1 13, Jackson 7-12 7-7 22, Berry 7-10 6-6 24, Williams 3-5 0-0 9, Rush 0-1 0-0 0, Bradley 5-5 3-4 13, Rohlman 0-0 0-0 0, White 0-0 0-0 0, Britt 5-10 2-2 12, Woods 0-1 0-0 0, Robinson 0-1 2-2 2, Coker 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 37-64 25-29 107.

Halftime–North Carolina 51-38. 3-Point Goals–Oklahoma St. 6-22 (Evans 2-5, Waters 2-6, Dziagwa 1-2, Carroll 1-3, McGriff 0-1, Shine 0-1, Hammonds 0-2, Forte 0-2), North Carolina 8-17 (Berry 4-6, Williams 3-4, Jackson 1-4, Robinson 0-1, Britt 0-2). Fouled Out–Meeks, Woods, Hammonds. Rebounds–Oklahoma St. 28 (Carroll 5), North Carolina 42 (Meeks, Jackson, Hicks 8). Assists–Oklahoma St. 5 (Averette, Forte, McGriff, N’Guessan, Evans 1), North Carolina 16 (Jackson 6). Total Fouls–Oklahoma St. 26, North Carolina 22. A–2,400 (2,400).

OKLAHOMA St. Cowboys 97