GREENVILLE, S.C. -- In the end the North Carolina Tar Heels dominated in two key areas, rebounding and officiating.
Not sure if they dragged those three referees out of a YMCA game or they have retirement homes in Chapel Hill. It was as if they wanted to protect the No. 1 seed or perhaps help the ACC, which got nine teams in the NCAA Tournament and seven were eliminated the first weekend.
Take nothing away from the Tar Heels, they are a great team, they just weren't greater Sunday night than Arkansas, except at the free-throw line and rebounding.
Both teams played hard-nosed defense but in the end the Tar Heels made 19 of 25 free throws, the Razorbacks 5 of 8.
They were playing the same man-to-man defense, and the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville was called for 20 personal fouls, North Carolina 10.
It took a toll on the Razorbacks, who were equally frustrated the last four minutes by the Tar Heels' great defense and the lack of respect shown by the three stooges -- Lamont Simpson (who once worked in the NBA but obviously not anymoe), Bo Boroski (who once was cited for stealing information from a website) and Darron George.
With 4:56 to play Daryl Macon made a steal and a layup to put the Hogs up 63-60 and coming out of timeout George was in the middle of the court chatting with three Tar Heels. Maybe he wanted autographs.
Jaylen Barford, who had an all-ball blocked shot earlier that was called a foul, made it 65-60 and then it was time for Arkansas to go home. There would be no glory for the Hogs, just a memory of the the final minutes when the Tar Heels would make 6 of 7 free throws while the Hogs attempted 2.
North Carolina's defense and the shot clock factored in big against the Razorbacks, too, but by then they were obviously shellshocked at the officials who just stared at them if they said anything.
Enough about those three clowns who should never call another NCAA Tournament game.
The Tar Heels took their knockout shot at the Hogs in the first half, jumping to a 30-13 lead with 5:31 to play in the first half.
Then, suddenly, North Carolina was on its heels.
Macon ignited a 20-8 run with a four-point play and on six consecutive possessions the Razorbacks scored. On half of those there was an assist, which has been an off-and-on problem for the Hogs this season with so many guards having a scoring mentality.
In the run that made it 38-33 at the half, North Carolina Coach Roy Williams never took a timeout.
Arkansas opened the second half with a country mile of grit and determination and took its first lead with 13:04 to play on a Dustin Thomas field goal, the only shot he took all night.
Dusty Hannahs followed that with his second three-pointer -- he only took four three-point shots in 19 minutes -- and North Carolina was looking for answers.
The Hogs opened their biggest lead of the night 65-60, but the Tar Heels went on a 6-0 run, four from the free-throw line, as they regained the lead 66-65 and edged away to advance to Memphis and the Sweet 16.
Arkansas goes home with a 26-10 record, knowing it engaged in a nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe fight with one of the country's best teams.
The Razorbacks had victory in sight, until North Carolina mounted four great defensive stands and three officials got in their way.
Arkansas had more field goals, more three pointers, but the Tar Heels had 45 rebounds and made 18 of 25 free throws, more than three times what the Razorbacks had the chance to make.
Sports on 03/20/2017
Print Headline: Three guys in stripes real stars for Carolina