LAS VEGAS -- North Carolina's Kendall Marshall keeps contributing in other ways.
Marshall scored four points, but had 14 assists and six steals with, with one turnover to help top-ranked North Carolina beat South Carolina 87-62 in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational Friday night."Kendall, I thought was sensational," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "Those are the kinds of stats that really important to our team."Marshall is averaging 11 assists a game and came in with two 15-assist games already this season."We did a great job on getting out on the break and getting a lot of easy opportunities early on," Marshall said. "In the second half, I think there was an eight-minute span where we got a lot of stops."Harrison Barnes had 21 points and five rebounds, and P.J. Hairston had 19 to lead North Carolina (5-0), who will face will face UNLV (6-0) in the championship game Saturday night.John Henson had 18 points and eight rebounds, and Tyler Zeller added 12 points and five rebounds for the Tar Heels, who outscored the Gamecocks in fast-break points, 16-0."We're pleased to have the win," Williams said. "We didn't play exceptionally well. Give South Carolina credit. They kept coming. Early, it was a 15-point game. But they kept coming back and making plays that made us uncomfortable. I was never worried about the outcome of the game. I was just concerned about how we played. Our defense forced them into 17 turnovers in the first half."RJ Slawson led South Carolina (2-3) with career highs of 13 points and 14 rebounds, and had four blocks. Daimen Leonard and Malik Cooke each had 12 points, and Anthony Gill added 10 points and six rebounds."They're really talented," South Carolina coach Darrin Horn said of the Tar Heels. "They're long and athletic. They have a great scorer in Barnes and Marshall dishes a great game."On Saturday, South Carolina will play Southern California, which lost to UNLV 66-55 earlier on Friday.North Carolina never trailed, jumping to a 19-4 lead.The Tar Heels made it 27-10, with Hairston scoring those next eight points."We were energetic and we got out to where we wanted to be," Williams said. "I think they were shellshocked a little bit."South Carolina never got the lead below 11 points in the second half as the Tar Heels extended the advantage to 27 in the final minute.The Gamecocks ended with 25 turnovers to North Carolina's 10."The story was turnovers," Horn said. "It's plain and simple."The game was the first meeting between the teams since Dec. 7, 1996, and North Carolina leads the series 57-21. About 3,000 North Carolina fans attended the game at the 8,000-seat arena.North Carolina has more experience than UNLV at the Invitational. North Carolina is making its second appearance, winning the four-game format during the 2007-08. The Tar Heels are now 7-0 in the event. This is the Rebels' first appearance.North Carolina and UNLV both will be playing their fourth game in seven days on Saturday.