STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Larry Drew II kept North Carolina alive in the postseason.
Drew hit a shot over center Jarvis Varnado with 2 seconds to play, giving the Tar Heels a 76-74 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday in the second round of the NIT.The 6-foot-2 point guard drove to the basket and was able to get the shot over the 6-9 Varnado, the NCAA's career leader in blocks."I saw Jarvis on my right, and I just wanted to give it a chance to go in," Drew said. "It was all instinct. I just wanted to get a shot off."Will Graves made a contested 3-pointer -- his fourth of the game -- with 31 seconds left to give the Tar Heels a 74-72 lead. Barry Stewart tied it for the Bulldogs (24-12) with two free throws, setting the stage for Drew's game-winner."After they hit their free throws, I told Larry just to push it," UNC coach Roy Williams said.Drew did just that, sending a high-arcing, left-hander over Varnado, second in the nation this season with 4.8 blocks per game."He was coming at me, and I knew he was going to take the shot," Varnado said. "He made one hell of a layup, give him credit."Mississippi State was only able to get off a halfcourt heave at the final buzzer.North Carolina (18-16) will face UAB on Tuesday, with a trip to the semifinals in New York on the line.Graves was 6 of 10 from the field, including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. John Henson had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels.Stewart led the Bulldogs with 18 points while Dee Bost and Varnado added 14 points each and Ravern Johnson had 13.The Bulldogs opened the game on a 16-4 run, but UNC adjusted quickly on defense and roared back to take a 20-19 lead on a layup by Leslie McDonald. The Tar Heels led 36-33 at halftime.