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.
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.