CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Jawad Williams found himself in the
right place at the right time, with a stern message from assistant
coach Steve Robinson fresh in his mind.
"Coach Robinson cussed me out for not playing hard," Williams
said with a smile. "He gave me a little extra motivation."
Soon after the tongue-lashing, Williams tipped in a miss to
thwart a second-half rally by Kentucky, helping North
Carolina (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 9 AP) beat the No. 8 Wildcats 91-78 Saturday in a game between
the two winningest programs in college basketball history.
Rashad McCants had 20 of his 28 points in the first half and
Sean May scored 11 of his 14 in the first eight minutes of the
second, but Williams' basket was equally clutch. The Wildcats had
trimmed what was a 17-point deficit to seven on a 3-pointer by
Bobby Perry with about 4 minutes left.
Raymond Felton missed a 3 for the Tar Heels, and Williams timed
his leap perfectly to give North Carolina (6-1) an 81-72 lead. May
made a free throw and McCants added two, and Kentucky never got
closer than eight the rest of the way.
Williams scored 19 points and May had 19 rebounds for the Tar
Heels, who outrebounded Kentucky 51-30.
"I can't say enough about Sean May," Tar Heels coach Roy
Williams said. "You know, he had nine rebounds in the first half,
just dominating on the boards, and then he turned around in the
second half and got 10."
Kelenna Azubuike had 24 points for the Wildcats (4-1), and Joe
Crawford finished with 11. Leading scorer Chuck Hayes, saddled with
foul trouble, didn't score until the second half and had only four
"They dominated us in every phase," Hayes said. "They played
great, and we didn't."
These two powers have played since 1923-24 -- Kentucky leads the
career victory list 1,880-1,833 -- and the recent history has
belonged to the Wildcats. They have won four straight since the
series was revived in 2000, including a 61-56 decision last season
The game was fast-paced from the beginning, with North Carolina
scoring the first eight points in less than 2 minutes to force a
timeout by Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. The Tar Heels' lead reached
24-6 and 36-19 before the Wildcats recovered, but North Carolina
still had a 15-point margin at the break.
"Our goal was to get the ball out and get running again," May
said. "That's what we wanted to do to them."
Azubuike led a 9-0 run to start the second half, but May then
took over. His spurt included three dunks, two layups and a free
throw to complete a three-point play, giving the Tar Heels a 65-51
lead. A 3-pointer by McCants made it 71-54 with about 9 minutes
"I liked the way that our guys didn't lose their poise," Roy
Williams said. "We kept attacking."
With two freshmen starters and two more freshmen who feature
prominently in the rotation, Kentucky got back in the game from
long range. Crawford made a 3-pointer, then Ravi Moss and Perry
added two more on consecutive possessions to get Kentucky within
It could have gotten even closer after the Wildcats forced a
shot clock violation, but Perry shot an air ball on a leaner from
the baseline and Williams responded with his putback to seal it.
Kentucky won its first four games against mostly overmatched
opponents by an average of nearly 25 points, and Smith knew his
team would face its first real challenge.
"I talked about being tested and we failed this test," he
said. "A lot of it has to do with UNC. We allowed them to control
the tempo from the start. North Carolina was ready."
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, considered a lock to leave the program before struggling in the second half last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return for his junior season.
Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku, who recently underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart rhythm issue detected during the combine, will keep his name in the NBA draft pool.
Andrew White III will return to the Nebraska men's basketball team next season after removing his name from the NBA draft.