Texas A&M defeats UNC, 86-65


Texas A&M turned the game around with a 15-0 first-half run that turned a 20-13 deficit into a 28-20 lead.

"We definitely feel like we have an advantage obviously against anybody on the inside because of what we do", Williams said. That continued in the second half and it doomed the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels were a very different team than last year's title victor, namely in the way they leaned on a small-ball lineup.

UNC struggled to hit shots in the first half. "We're really excited to be playing against a really good team".

Historically the Tar Heels are a flawless 12-0 playing in Charlotte.

It was a big upset based on the seeding, North Carolina's tournament tradition and the fact the Tar Heels have always been practically unbeatable in NCAA games played in their home state. The Aggies out-rebounded North Carolina by 14 and limited it to nine offensive rebounds.

In dealing North Carolina its first loss ever in Charlotte, freshman point guard T.J. Starks scored 21 points and dished out five assists and junior center Tyler Davis had 18 points and nine rebounds. "Three of the last four years have been very hard, and these kids were my salvation".

After closing the inning, the atmosphere changed for the Tar Heels and the pace of the game increased.

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"We knew we needed to keep attacking", said Kennedy, who takes A&M to its fifth Sweet 16 in program history and second in three years under his direction. "I would've loved to have had another practice just to have fun, but I can't do that anymore".

Further, the Aggies out-rebounded North Carolina, 50-36, blocked eight shots, altered several others, hit 10 three-pointers and generally excelled in every aspect of the game. Pinson and Joel Berry, who played their final games as Tar Heels, will graduate with a career 14-3 record in the NCAA tournament, two Final Four appearances and one national championship.

"To play against a Carolina team here in Charlotte is something that every coach and every player would be looking forward to", A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said.

While the versatile Aggie bigs locked down the paint on both sides of the ball, it was the three-point shooting that put them over the top. "Our problem was the beginning of SEC play when we had two guys with knee injuries [senior guard Duane Wilson, whose season ended against Kentucky in February and Gilder, who injured his knee against Savanah State in December]". They earned it in impressive and unexpectedly dominant fashion.

With Hogg and Gilder heating up out of halftime, Texas A&M's lead grew to 24 on a Gilder 3-pointer with more than 13 minutes to go.

"They're an up-and-running team, they're a great shooting team", Robert Williams said.

Amazingly enough, the Tar Heels got no closer than 17 again to stun a crowd that was wearing a lot of blue and expecting the Tar Heels to advance.

After a heartbreaking title-game loss to Villanova in 2016 followed by last year's title win against Gonzaga, the Tar Heels found themselves eliminated on the tournament's opening weekend for the first time since 2014. He only scored six points in the Round 1 game against New Mexico State, but he grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Tigers win.