KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- No. 8 seed North Carolina used the long ball to edge No. 9 seed Villanova 78-71 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Sprint Center on Friday.
The Tar Heels (25-10) shot 11-of-21 (54 percent) from 3-point range, first to get a big lead in the first half, and then to respond when Villanova took the lead in the second. Villanova finished the season 20-14.
Villanova continued a run from the end of the first half to make a game of it in the second half. The Wildcats outscored the Tar Heels 15-5 to start the half to grab their first lead, 44-42, since it was 4-3 in the opening moments. JayVaughn Pinkston scored six points in the run.
But North Carolina hit two quick 3-pointers to regain the lead for good. Then, on three straight possessions, the Tar Heels replied to Villanova 2-point field goals with 3-pointers, opening up a 63-54 lead.
The Wildcats cut it to 67-66 with 2:14 left, but never could retake the lead. Once again it was a 3-pointer, this time by Marcus Paige, that gave the Tar Heels some breathing room.
North Carolina will face the winner of the game between Kansas and Western Kentucky.
P.J. Hairston led four North Carolina players in double figures with 23 points, while going 5-of-8 from 3-point range. James Michael McAdoo had 17 points, Reggie Bullock had 15 and Paige had 14.
Pinkston led the Wildcats with 20 points. Darrun Hilliard added 18, Mouphtaou Yarou 17 and Ryan Arcidiacono 10.
North Carolina went on a 15-0 run midway through the second half to blow open a close game. Leading 15-11, the Tar Heels hit three 3-point shots, a couple of layups and two free throws to seize control of the game.
It wasn't just one Tar Heel. Hairston and McAdoo each contributed 10 points in the first half. Hairston had two of the Tar Heels' 3-pointers in the run. Pinkston led the Wildcats with nine points in the first half.
Villanova responded late in the half with a 12-2 run to cut the halftime lead to 37-29.
The halftime stats for the teams were similar. Both teams hit 12-of-24 shots from the field. But the Tar Heels' advantage from 3-point range made up the difference. North Carolina was 5-of-11 from beyond the arc, while Villanova was 0-for-6.
NOTES: North Carolina made its 44th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this year. The Tar Heels' 151 games and 109 wins rank second all-time behind Kentucky. The Tar Heels have advanced to 18 Final Fours (most all-time) and have won the national championship five times, the most recent being in 2009...This was Villanova's 33rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and first since 2009, when the Wildcats lost to the Tar Heels, 77-62...North Carolina owns an 11-4 series lead over Villanova.