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Final Four Memories

1998 NCAA Men's Tournament

  Williams Gets Tar Heels Past Kansas

By Robert Fachet
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 4, 1993; Page D1


All week long, those good friends, coaches Dean Smith of North Carolina and Roy Williams of Kansas, insisted today's NCAA tournament semifinal would be decided by the players, not by them. And, once again, the man who made the decisive plays was Smith's sophomore guard, Donald Williams.

Williams scored 25 points, including a key three-pointer with 2:36 left, to lead the Tar Heels to a 78-68 victory before 64,151 in the Louisiana Superdome, earning a berth in Monday night's final against Michigan, which won the second semifinal tonight.

Roy Williams, a former North Carolina assistant coach whose Kansas team beat Smith's Tar Heels in the semifinals two years ago, left no doubt about his allegiance Monday: "I'll be pulling for North Carolina and if that upsets anybody from Michigan, they just don't know Roy Williams."

Although the Tar Heels (33-4) jumped to an early lead, they never could pull away. But the Jayhawks (29-7) never were able to catch up. Kansas's last good chance came when two free throws by Darrin Hancock closed the gap to 68-65 with 2:48 remaining.

At that point, Rex Walters, the Jayhawks' leading scorer, returned from a lengthy stretch on the bench. He will prefer to forget what followed.

First Walters let Williams escape for a three-pointer. Then he slipped and lost possession. After a bad pass by Eric Montross gave Kansas another chance, Walters dribbled off his foot and lost the ball out of bounds. Williams then made two free throws to expand the margin to 73-65 and the Tar Heels made five of six in the final minute to wrap it up.

Williams, the hero of East regional victories over Arkansas and Cincinnati, hit three of four three-point tries. Of the big one, he said, "Kansas was trapping Derrick :Phelps: in the backcourt and my man left me. Derrick made a lob pass and Coach encourages me to take that shot because we have good rebounding position."

Roy Williams noted, "We got to three late in the game and Donald Williams made a big three-pointer for them. Then we had three consecutive possessions where we either turned it over or took shots I'd rather we didn't take."

Walters and Adonis Jordan had 19 points apiece for Kansas, each sinking five three-pointers. But in the second half Walters managed only six points, half on a meaningless last-minute three.

"They play great team defense with a lot of switches," Walters said. "Every time we set screens, they would have a new man to pick up the shooter and continually had a hand in the face of whoever was shooting the ball. They were a lot stronger than I anticipated -- a lot. They just overpowered us at crucial times."

Kansas made 11 of 20 three-point shots while sinking only 14 of 37 from two-point range. That was due in large part to the Tar Heels' inside dominance. North Carolina made its first seven shots from within five feet and the Jayhawks never were able to control the 7-foot Montross at either end of the court.

"He's a great player, he did a great job and his teammates did a tremendous job of getting him the ball over the top on lobs," said Kansas's 6-foot-10 center, Eric Pauley, who had nine rebounds to Montross's four but was outscored 23-5. "He's strong and he takes up a lot of space. That makes him hard to guard."

Montross, who had 15 points in the second half, sat out six minutes after he drew his fourth personal foul with 8:11 left. But following two bad plays by replacement Kevin Salvadori, he returned.

© Copyright 1993 The Washington Post Company

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