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
Dexter Strickland had 12 points and John Henson added 11 points
and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels, who were out-rebounded
”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
”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
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.