North Carolina gets into third round

Published 7:39 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003

By By DAVID DROSCHAK, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL -- This may only be the NIT, but the spirit of winning basketball is alive and well at North Carolina.
Melvin Scott had a career-high 20 points and Raymond Felton added 15 points and 14 assists as the Tar Heels beat Wyoming 90-74 Monday night in front of a rowdy crowd to advance to the tourney's third round.
North Carolina (19-15) will face Georgetown at home Wednesday night with a chance to advance to New York and win 20 games for the 32nd time in the last 33 years.
Rashad McCants added 20 points as North Carolina hit 12-of-26 from 3-point range and forced 19 turnovers.
Felton's assist total broke the freshman school record of 13 set by Jeff Lebo in 1985 against Manhattan, while Scott's previous high point total was 19 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.
Donta Richardson led Wyoming with 20 points.
It was a wild scene before and during the game. Thousands of students lined up more than three hours before tipoff to get prime locations close to the action -- seats normally reserved for athletic boosters. Once inside, many of the students never sat down, yelling for every basket or blocked shot.
Wyoming coach Steve McClain couldn't believe the atmosphere.
But in typical North Carolina fashion this season, the Tar Heels made their faithful sweat it out after going up by 22 with 16:36 left.
The Cowboys (21-11) used an 18-0 run over a six-minute span to work their way back into it, cutting the score to 61-58 with plenty of time left.
But Jawad Williams hit a 3-pointer, Felton had a steal and fastbreak layup and then fed David Noel for a dunk in span of a minute as the Tar Heels went back up by double digits.
Wyoming pulled within eight with 7:48 left before Scott hit a pair of 3-pointers and a layup in a span of 38 seconds to help seal it.
The Tar Heels were hot out of the gate, hitting nine of their first 14 shots to go up 24-14.
A 14-0 run late in the first half then broke the game open as McCants scored on a three-point play and layup, Felton and Williams hit 3-pointers and Will Johnson added four points for a 23-point cushion.
The Tar Heels shot 55 percent in the first half, going 7-for-12 beyond the arc as the Cowboys turned it over nine times and had five shots blocked by a swarming North Carolina defense.