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North Carolina beats Ohio 73-65

Sat., March 24, 2012, midnight

North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller secures one of his 22 rebounds against Ohio’s Jon Smith during Tar Heels’ OT win. (Associated Press)
North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller secures one of his 22 rebounds against Ohio’s Jon Smith during Tar Heels’ OT win. (Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS – The last of the little guys gave North Carolina a massive scare.

Harrison Barnes scored five of his 12 points in overtime and the top-seeded Tar Heels (32-5) escaped a huge upset with a 73-65 victory over No. 13 seed Ohio (29-8) on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

Ohio, trying to become the first team seeded 13th or worse to make the regional finals since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1985, had a chance to convert a three-point play that would have given the Bobcats the lead with 25 seconds left in regulation. But Walter Offutt missed from the line and Ohio went 0 of 6 from the field in the first overtime of this year’s tournament.

“One free throw away,” Offutt said. “As a leader on this team, I take responsibility that I’ve got to hit that free throw. … It just feels terrible to kind of let my team down in that sort of way.”

Tyler Zeller finished with 20 points and a career-high 22 rebounds for North Carolina, which was without injured point guard Kendall Marshall.

The Tar Heels had three players with double-doubles for the first time in an NCAA tournament game: Reggie Bullock had 17 points and 10 boards, and John Henson had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman guard Stilman White was an impressive fill-in for Marshall, dishing out six assists without a single turnover and playing 32 minutes – almost three times his previous high.

“We feel like we got away with one,” Zeller said. “Ohio played the better game, they hit a lot of shots. I think we just were able to make a lot of plays at the end that made us capable of pulling it out.”

Offutt led the Bobcats with 26 points, including 18 from 3-point range.

Marshall broke his right wrist Sunday when he was fouled on a drive against Creighton. He had surgery Monday to put a screw in the wrist and got his cast off Wednesday.

Though Marshall said his wrist is improving, he didn’t even dress Friday night, sitting on the bench.

Kansas 60, N.C. State 57: Thomas Robinson had 18 points and 15 rebounds, Jeff Withey blocked 10 shots to finish one shy of the NCAA tournament record, and the No. 2-seeded Jayhawks (30-6) held on to beat the 11th-seeded Wolfpack (24-13).

The Jayhawks advanced when Richard Howell’s off-balanced heave at the buzzer came up well short.

Elijah Johnson added 11 points for the Jayhawks, including a layup off an inbound pass from Tyshawn Taylor with 13.5 seconds remaining.

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried called a timeout to set up a play, but Scott Wood stepped out of bounds fielding a cross-court pass with 5 seconds left that kept one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters from getting off a shot.

C.J. Leslie had 18 points for the Wolfpack.

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