Top-ranked Tar Heels stunned by UNLV, 90-80

North Carolina had the hot hand in the opening half. The

top-ranked Tar Heels couldn’t get anything going in the second.

Chace Stanback had a career-high 28 points and added 10 rebounds

to help UNLV beat North Carolina 90-80 on Saturday night in the

championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational.

”Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed. I would like

to congratulate coach Rice and his team,” North Carolina coach Roy

Williams said. ”They did a nice job. We could never get our focus

offensively the entire game. What killed us, they got 20 points on

offensive rebounds to our six.”

Mike Moser added 16 points and 18 rebounds, Oscar Bellfield had

16 points and nine rebounds, and Anthony Marshall finished with 13

points for the Rebels (7-0).

”I could tell on the bus on the way over and at shoot-around

how focused we were,” said first-year UNLV coach Dave Rice.

”North Carolina is so well coached. We expected to play really,

really well. We felt we had a chance to be competitive. We have

four seniors. We don’t want one game to define our program. We want

to be judged on our consistency.”

P.J. Hairston and John Henson each had 15 points for North

Carolina (5-1).

Dexter Strickland had 12 points and John Henson added 11 points

and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels, who were out-rebounded

48-39.

”I was surprised that we didn’t rebound the basketball

better,” Williams said. ”I was surprised about a lot of things we

didn’t do. We have to be stronger with the basketball. We have to

guard the basketball better. We never did get the flow going. We

have to be whole lot more patient.”

After North Carolina took a 42-38 halftime lead, UNLV opened the

second half with a 14-0 run as the Tar Heels missed their first 10

shots. The Rebels built a 77-63 lead on Lopez’s basket off a

rebound with 5:39 left.

Rebels fans stormed the Orleans Arena court after the

victory.

”Chace was going 100 percent in the second half. His defense

carried us,” said Moser, who was named the Mountain West

Conference player of the week. ”Oscar Bellfield broke down his

defender. Anthony Marshall did all he wanted to do. North Carolina

is a great team.”

The Tar Heels shot 31 percent in the second half.

The Rebels, who won for the first-time in four games against

North Carolina, gambled early, taking 10 of their first 15 shots

from 3-point range and hitting four. The strategy paid off with the

Rebels jumping out to a 17-9 advantage. They went 13-of-32 from

long range in the game.

”It was a big game for us,” said Bellfield, who had 13

first-half points, including three 3-pointers. ”You got to show up

in the big game or in any game. You have to shoot with confidence.

Open shot, you just take it.”

The Tar Heels held UNLV scoreless for 4 minutes and took their

first lead, 18-17, on Barnes’ baseline jumper with 10:30 left in

the opening half.

”Playing at Louisville and at home against them and playing at

Wisconsin, that helped a lot,” Bellfield said. ”We’re just

cherishing the moment. We feel we’re getting better every day. In

the second half, we took another step.”

This was the first time UNLV played a No.1 team since 1985,

oddly enough against the Tar Heels at the Great Alaskan

Shootout.

The game was played at the Orleans Arena, five miles from the

UNLV campus. The teams have met only on a neutral court. They last

played on Dec. 4, 1999 in the championship game of the Food

Lion/MVP Classic in Charlotte, N.C., where the Tar Heels won

102-78. The teams also met in the 1977 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta,

where North Carolina won 65-60.