ORLANDO, FLA., DEC. 29 -- Freshman Clifford Rozier scored the first five points in a decisive second-half run that broke open the game and No. 7 North Carolina beat De Paul, 90-75, today in the opening round of the Red Lobster Classic.
De Paul had cut a 12-point deficit to 51-49 on Brad Niemann's three-point basket with 13:23 to play when the Tar Heels (8-1) took control.
Rozier started a 22-7 run with 13:05 left on a free throw and added two baskets in less than a minute. The Tar Heels also got four points each from Pete Chilcutt, George Lynch and Henrik Rodl in building a 73-56 lead with 6:33 left.
Rick Fox scored 21 points to lead the Tar Heels to their sixth victory in a row. It was the fifth loss in a row for the Blue Demons (4-5).
"We lost five in a row last year, but we're going to make a new start tomorrow or I'm going to hit them over the head with a chair," De Paul Coach Joey Meyer said. "We need to execute better and do the little things it takes to win."
The victory sends North Carolina into Sunday's championship game against Stanford, which beat Central Florida, 70-61.
David Booth scored 22 points for De Paul before fouling out with 3:29 remaining.
Carolina trailed only once in the game, when Booth made the first basket of the game.
Rodl's three-pointer with 13:33 to play in the first half broke an 11-11 tie and gave the Tar Heels the lead for good.
"Their size wore us down," Meyer said. "We were worn out. Every time we turned around they brought in a new player. They just keep coming."
Fox scored 10 points in a 14-8 burst that built a 44-35 lead 30 seconds before halftime.
Trailing 51-39 three minutes into the second half, De Paul used three points each from Stephen Howard, Melvon Foster and Niemann in a 10-0 run to close it to 51-49 before Carolina took control.
For Stanford, Kenny Ammann sparked a 12-0 run in the first half with eight points and then hit four free throws in the final minute.
The Cardinal (7-2) went cold in the final 12 minutes, hitting only three field goals after building a 57-40 lead.
It was the fifth victory in the last six games for Stanford.