Jason Capel scored 16 points and No. 2 North Carolina took out a year's worth of frustration by defeating the College of Charleston, 72-54, last night at the Food Lion MVP Classic in Charlotte.
The victory came nearly one year to the day after the Cougars shocked then-No. 3 North Carolina, 66-64, in this tournament. The dazed Tar Heels walked off the Charlotte Coliseum court in silence as the College of Charleston faithful stormed the court to celebrate one of the greatest victories in school history.
There were no heroics for the Cougars this time, however, as North Carolina (4-1) forced 10 first-half turnovers and converted them into 14 points on the way to a 12-point lead.
The Tar Heels stretched it to 20 early in the second half and the outmanned Cougars (2-1) were unable to get closer than 12. North Carolina's lead reached 23 in the closing minutes.
With the victory came some bad news for the Tar Heels. Junior reserve forward Brian Bersticker broke a bone in his left foot in the first half and is scheduled for surgery Monday. He likely will miss 10 weeks. It is the same bone that was fractured in August, but this time it broke in a different spot.
Kris Lang added 15 points and junior center Brendan Haywood had a career-high seven blocks for North Carolina, which two nights earlier dropped its home opener for the first time since 1928, losing to Michigan State.
* SYRACUSE 74, RICHMOND 60: Etan Thomas had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Ryan Blackwell added 18 points and 13 rebounds as the No. 14 Orangemen won in the first round of their Carrier Classic.
Syracuse (5-0) will play St. Joseph's in the championship game tonight. The Hawks defeated Long Beach State, 79-76, in the other first-round game.
It was only the second meeting between Syracuse and Richmond (2-2). The first was one the Orangemen would sooner forget--Richmond made NCAA tournament history at the Orangemen's expense in 1991 at Maryland's Cole Field House, becoming the first 15th seed to defeat a No. 2 seed.
There was no upset on this night, but the Spiders made the game interesting until the closing minutes.
Syracuse, which led 34-29 at halftime, was unable to pull away in the second half. The Orangemen, who outrebounded the Spiders 44-29, built a double-digit lead with Thomas and point guard Jason Hart on the bench.
A follow-up basket by Damone Brown, a three-pointer by DeShaun Williams and baskets by Preston Shumpert and Blackwell gave Syracuse a 55-44 lead with 9 minutes 16 seconds left.
Greg Stevenson and Scott Ungerer each scored 14 points for Richmond, and Charles Stephens and Reggie Brown each had 10. Damone Brown had 16 points and seven rebounds for Syracuse.
* UTAH 69, AUGUSTA STATE 56: Alex Jensen scored 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the No. 20 Utes (3-2) over the Division II Jaguars for their 37th straight home victory--the third-longest current streak behind Murray State (44) and Duke (38).
CAPTION: Under pressure from four Richmond Spiders, Etan Thomas passes during Syracuse victory in Carrier Classic.