CHARLOTTE, March 18 -- Oakland Coach Greg Kampe summed it up best when he said in the postgame news conference: "If you saw that movie 'Airplane,' we just picked a bad day to play Carolina."
Top-seeded North Carolina, still smarting from its poor performance in the ACC tournament, exacted its ire on the scrappy but overmatched 16th-seeded Golden Grizzlies, defeating them, 96-68, in a first-round game Friday in the NCAA tournament's Syracuse Region. The Tar Heels advance to play ninth-seeded Iowa State in Sunday's second round.
Oakland's Cortney Scott, left, passes over North Carolina's Raymond Felton in the first half Friday.
(David J. Phillip - AP)
Fueled by its unexpected loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament semifinals, North Carolina (28-4) controlled this game from tip-off to final buzzer.
"We were extremely disappointed with the way we played in D.C., and our kids wanted to get that bad taste out of their mouths," said North Carolina Coach Roy Williams.
The Tar Heels were relentless, scoring on 14 of their first 16 shots. They made their first five three-point attempts and didn't miss from behind the arc until less than 8 1/2 minutes remained in the first half. By halftime, North Carolina had scored 59 points on 32 possessions and shot 73 percent from the floor.
"That half of basketball I saw tonight, that was a clinic," Kampe said. "That was as good as it gets."
Most of North Carolina's field goals came off an assist. The Tar Heels had an assist on their first 14 baskets and had 19 assists on 22 first half field goals, equaling the total number of assists they had in their two ACC tournament games. Their 27 assists were one short of a season high. North Carolina finished with more assists than Oakland had field goals (25).
"We're a great team when we share the ball," said UNC's Raymond Felton, who led the team with seven assists.
North Carolina was particularly proficient from behind the arc. The Tar Heels made 12 of 19 three-point attempts for a season-high 63 percent. Their 12 three-pointers were the most in an NCAA tournament game by a North Carolina team.
Oakland (13-19) played well, but failed to match North Carolina's offensive production. The Golden Grizzlies had fewer turnovers than the Tar Heels and took the same number of shots as North Carolina but made 12 fewer.
IOWA STATE 64, MINNESOTA 53: Cyclones Coach Wayne Morgan learned a few things about zone defenses in 12 years as an assistant to Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim.
Now Morgan has ninth-seeded Iowa State (19-11) playing an aggressive trapping zone that befuddled eighth-seeded Minnesota (21-11).
The Golden Gophers, unaccustomed to facing such defenses, made only 33 percent of their shots -- their second-lowest shooting percentage of the season. Vincent Grier, Minnesota's leading scorer, finished with 14 points on 7-of-21 shooting -- more than four points below his season average.
"We didn't see a lot of zone in the Big Ten," Minnesota Coach Dan Monson said. "You've got to hit jump shots. That's not a strength of our team."
What few open looks the Golden Gophers got from the perimeter they failed to capitalize on. They missed 18 of their 23 three-point shots. Aaron Robinson (11 points), Minnesota's best outside shooter, went 3 of 12 from behind the arc.
The Golden Gophers also turned the ball over 17 times, mostly as a result of Iowa State's 12 steals. It was the fifth time in the last six games the Cyclones have reached double digits in steals.
"In our full-court press, we were able to disrupt them," said Iowa State center Jared Homan, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double this season.
Curtis Stinson, Iowa State's leading scorer, went down with a foot injury early in the second half. He sat on the bench for nearly three minutes before returning to the game. Stinson, who played 36 minutes, finished with 18 points.