Texas' Kerwin Roach II, right, and Elijah Mithrou-Long (55) celebrate after Texas defeated North Carolina 92-89 in an NCAA college…
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Kerwin Roach II blended aggression and good decision making, just how coach Shaka Smart drew it up.
Roach scored a career-best 32 points and helped Texas hold off a late charge to beat No. 7 North Carolina 92-89 on Thursday and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational.
“Just played the game the right way and did not want to force anything,” said Roach, who also had seven assists and six steals. “(My teammates) did a nice job creating shots. We have a blue collar team. We have to fight to win. Last year when we lost a game to Duke like this, it was tears of sadness. Tonight, there are tears. of happiness. “
Texas (5-0) plays in the championship game Friday against the winner of Thursday’s nightcap between No. 11 Michigan State and No. 17 UCLA. North Carolina plays the loser.
Roach also had six rebounds and was 12 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 3 from deep. The senior topped his previous best of 26 points with an emphatic dunk with 8:27 left for a 73-65 lead.
“The best thing about him tonight was he really took the right shots and made the right reads,” Smart said. “He really got us going after a slow start. They were coming at us. They’re not going to stop shooting lights out unless we make them.”
Roach and North Carolina freshman Coby White went back and forth all game. White had 33 points, but he missed a 3-pointer that would have put the Tar Heels (5-1) ahead with 1:01 left. He was 7 or 10 from 3 point range.
White had the most points by a UNC freshman since Harrison Barnes’ 40 in 2011 against Clemson at the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Matt Coleman III had 16 points for Texas , and Jaxson Hayes had 15 points and nine rebounds. Dylan Osetkowski had 14 points, including a buzzer-beating 3 that puts Texas up 43-42 at halftime.
“Our guys did a nice job managing the game against their trap defense,” Smart said. “I told the guys that Halftime, we have to be the more blue-collar team. We have to be gritty. “We have to find a way to go and get those loose balls.”
Cameron Johnson had 16 points for the Tar Heels. Luke Maye had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Nassir Little had 11 points and six rebounds.
“In the first half, we took four free throws and we started taking 3-point shots and threw the ball out of bounds,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “In the second half, I think our guys competed much harder.”
The Longhorns pulled away after halftime and led by 11 at 11:08 left. North Carolina responded by cutting it 80-78 with 5:44 left.
The Longhorns have had success against the Tar Heels, leading 8-3 in the all-time series. They also won the previous meeting in December 2015 at Austin, Texas.
NO. 6 NEVADA 96, TULSA 86
Jordan Caroline had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 6 Nevada beat Tulsa to reach the final of the other Las Vegas Invitational bracket.
Nevada (5-0) will face Massachusetts on Friday night.
Caleb Martin added 21 points for the Wolf Pack, making all 10 of his free throws. Jazz Johnson had 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Sterling Taplin the Golden Hurricane (4-1) with 22 points, and Martins Igbanu added 14.
Nevada finally pulled away with about 10 minutes left in the game, building an 80-62 lead with 9:30 left. Tulsa cut it to 88-79 with 3:48 remaining.
UMASS 84, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 62
Luwane Pipkins scored 15 points and UMass raced to a 16-2 lead in a victory over Southern Illinois to set up a match against Nevada.
Carl Pierre added 14 points, and Curtis Cobb had 11. The Minutemen made a season-high 15 3-pointers, one shy of the school record.
Eric McGill led southern Illinois 2-3) with 18 points, and Kavion Pippen added 12.
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