James Madison, a team noted for its defense, met a mirror image of itself in North Carolina during the second round of the NCAA East Regional at the Greensboro Coliseum this afternoon.
The second-seeded Tar Heels (27-7) were dominant in shooting and defense as they took a 68-49 victory. The victory sends the defending national champions to the regional semifinal in Syracuse for a Frdiay game with the winner of Sunday's game between Syracuse and Ohio State.
In the second game of the regional doubleheader, James Banks made a jumper with two seconds remaining to give Georgia a 56-54 victory over Virginia Commonwealth. The Bulldogs (22-9) will meet the winner of Sunday's game between Rutgers and St. Johns in the semifinals Friday.
North Carolina took a little time to get going, committing six straight turnovers before Michael Jordan made UNC's first basket with 17:11 remaining in the first half. The Tar Heels, still sharp despite a week's layoff from competition, made 60 percent of their first-half shots while building as much as a 14-point lead against the struggling Dukes.
Faced with an active Tar Heel zone much of the half, the Dukes uncharacteristically hurried their shots. JMU shot only 36 percent from the floor during the first 20 minutes, and trailed, 28-17, at intermission.
"We came out and we didn't want to shoot every 15 seconds," said JMU Coach Lou Campanelli, whose team has advanced to the second round of the regionals in each of the last three years. "We wanted a little slower pace but of course North Carolina's defense was so strong it forced us to shoot from outside.
"The first 10 minutes are a test of will and patience and we did not convert our shots when we needed to."
The Tar Heels' shooting percentage improved in the second half to 72 percent. All-American Sam Perkins scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half as the Tar Heels gradually increased their lead to the final 19-point advantage.
The game was strikingly different than last year's regional meeting between the teams, which Carolina won, 52-50.
"I think North Carolina was more prepared for us this year because we scared them a year ago," said Campanelli. "We made it tough for them last year with good shooting and defense. Maybe we had too much adrenaline this time. We kind of forgot how we played last year."
In the second game, the Rams rallied from a nine-point deficit to take the lead at 54-52 on Randy Corker's jumper with 1:57 left in the game. Georgia's Vern Fleming made a follow shot to tie the score with 1:29 remaining and nine seconds later a traveling call against Calvin Duncan returned the ball to the Bulldogs.
Georgia elected to wait for the final shot, which Banks took after working into the lane. The ball bounced on the right side of the rim before falling through the net, though VCU players complained that it had been touched on the rim and should have been disallowed. After three timeouts, the Rams attempted to unsuccessful shot at the buzzer.
"I put it up there soft, and I was just praying it would go in," said Banks. "I knew all the time it was going in. I was very confident. I had good rotation on the ball."