Late 3-pointer lifts UNC over Miss. St.
Larry Drew II kept North Carolina alive in the postseason.
He hit a shot over center Jarvis Varnado with 2 seconds to play to give the Tar Heels a 76-74 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday in the second round of the NIT.
The 6-foot-2 point guard drove to the basket and was able to get the shot over the 6-9 Varnado, who was second in the nation this season with 4.8 blocks per game.
"I saw Jarvis on my right, and I just wanted to give it a chance to go in,'' Drew said. "It was all instinct. I just wanted to get a shot off.''
Will Graves made a contested 3-pointer - his fourth of the game - with 31 seconds left to give the Tar Heels a 74-72, Barry Stewart tied it for the Bulldogs (24-12) with two free throws, setting the stage for Drew's game-winner.
"After they hit their free throws, I told Larry just to push it,'' UNC coach Roy Williams said.
He did just that, sending a high-arcing, left-hander over Varnado, the NCAA's career blocks leader.
"He was coming at me, and I knew he was going to take the shot,'' MSU center Jarvis Varnado said.'' He made one hell of a layup, give him credit.''
North Carolina (18-16) will face either UAB or North Carolina State on Tuesday, with a trip to New York and the semifinals on the line.
Mississippi State was only able to get off a halfcourt heave at the final buzzer.
Graves was 6 of 10 from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. John Henson had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels.
Stewart led the Bulldogs with 18 points while Dee Bost and Varnado added 14 points each and Ravern Johnson had 13.
The Bulldogs opened the game on a 16-4 run, but UNC adjusted quickly on defense and roared back to take a 20-19 lead on a layup by Leslie McDonald. The Tar Heels led 36-33 at the half.