North Carolina, mostly Brad Daugherty, wore down the University of Utah two-thirds of the way through the second half to salt away an 84-72 victory in the first round of the NCCA West regional tonight.
The Tar Heels will play Alabama-Birmingham Saturday afternoon in the second round. Joining them will be Louisville, a 93-73 victor over Drexel, and Bradley, an 83-65 winner over Texas-El Paso. UAB beat Missouri, 66-64.
Daugherty scored 27 points and dominated the crucial moments. Utah had fought the Tar Heels to a standstill until 6-foot-8 Mitch Smith went to the bench with too many fouls. Warren Martin, the other almost 7-foot Tar Heel, and 6-10 Joe Wolf were too many and too much for the undersized Utes.
North Carolina Coach Dean Smith substituted from the beginning, singly and in groups and, as usual, his moves paid off. He slowed down the speedy Utes and shut off any inside hopes.
Both Louisville and Bradley had trouble in the first half contending with confusing defenses. Bradley turned to Jim Les, whose 22 points and 12 assists made the difference.
Louisville solved its first-half problem by playing taller. It took the high ground and held it with blocked shots, offensive rebounds for baskets and defensive rebounds that led to fast breaks.
Pervis Ellison (6-9) and Billy Thompson (6-7) did most of the rebounding in the second half and Louisville ran up an 11-point lead after six minutes.
Drexel promptly rallied for a brief 41-40 lead, but the Cardinals turned up the pressure.
"We had some players who wanted to play and some who didn't," Coach Denny Crum of Louisville said. "We did not play one of our better games, but you have to give Drexel credit; they moved the ball well and shot well. I think that will be one of the factors at this altitude [4,300 feet]."
Coach Eddie Burke of Drexel praised his team's "tremendous" effort. "Louisville is a great team," he said, "and they just kept coming at us the whole game and finally got us. But I don't think we'll hear 'Who's Drexel?' anymore."
Thompson's 24 points led all scorers and 6-7 Mark McSwain had 15 and Robbie Valentine 14.
Bradley's response to the questions posed by UTEP's 6-4 Dave Feitl was simple. Gang up on him when UTEP had the ball and let Les work his wonders when the Braves had possession.
Les, a great passer inside and sensational on lobs to the big guys for dunks, runs the Bradley act, which played as well out west as in Peoria.
Feitl scored 27 points but was held down, both figuratively and literally. The Braves packed in a tight zone around him and he accepted the punishment, which was plentiful.
Bradley's Hersey Hawkins scored 21 and the Braves broke away early in the second half.
UAB and Missouri played a seesaw game that can best be described as one somebody had to win.