(Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports)

Providence senior Bryce Cotton nearly doomed Tobacco Road to its most impotent NCAA tournament in 35 years, dropping 36 points as the Friars narrowly missed knocking off North Carolina on Friday night. The Tar Heels advanced with a 79-77 win thanks to three late free throws from James Michael McAdoo, surviving a second-half scare from the Friars, who led by three with 78 seconds remaining.

Marcus Paige led a balanced Tar Heels scoring effort with 19 points, backed by 16 points each from McAdoo and Brice Johnson, who helped Carolina battle back from a deficit that reached seven points with less than five minutes to play.

With the win, Carolina saves Tobacco Road from its least successful NCAA tournament in 35 years: not since 1979 have Duke (upset earlier Friday by Mercer) and North Carolina both failed to win at least one tournament game.

 

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