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UNC cruises to Elite Eight with dominating win over Marquette

Mar 26, 2011 - 4:24 AM Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - North Carolina won its 10th straight regional semifinal game going away, as Tyler Zeller highlighted a dominant frontcourt with 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Tar Heels' 81-63 drubbing of Marquette in East Regional action of the NCAA Tournament.

The second-seeded Tar Heels (29-7) separated themselves from the 11th-seeded Golden Eagles with a 19-0 run in the first half and cruised to an Elite Eight meeting against Kentucky on Sunday.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats beat top-seeded Ohio State, 62-60, on Brandon Knight's late jumper in the nightcap at Prudential Center.

"We did a great job of forcing them out of their offense, and then just not letting them ever take a comfortable shot," Zeller said. "If we can play like we did in the first half every game, we'll be all right."

John Henson added 14 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks and Harrison Barnes chipped in 20 points and nine boards in the lopsided victory, North Carolina's 12th in 13 games.

Marquette (22-15) shot just 36.5 percent from the field, including a 2-for-16 effort behind the arc, and committed 18 turnovers to end its season on a miserable note. Davante Gardner led the team with 16 points off the bench.

The Golden Eagles, playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since Dwyane Wade led the program to the Final Four in 2003, shut down Xavier and Syracuse in their first two NCAA Tournament games, but had no answer for the mismatches down low against the ACC regular season champions.

Whereas the first 10 minutes were evenly played, the next 10 were about as one-sided as a game this deep in the tourney can get, as North Carolina rattled off 19 straight points to pull away for good.

"I looked up at the clock and it was 10-8 their favor, and the next time I looked at the clock is when I went off at halftime and it was 40-15. I knew we were doing very well to say the least," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said.

The Golden Eagles missed 14 consecutive shots during the stretch and could not stop the Tar Heels' decidedly more physical frontcourt.

Henson scored six points on the inside during the flurry, which was capped when Leslie McDonald cleaned up Zeller's missed putback for an easy deuce, yielding a 27-10 lead with under five minutes left in the first half.

Marquette wound up with 12 turnovers and shot 20 percent in the opening 20 minutes, and trailed 40-15 at the break following Henson's late tip-in.

"I knew they were really good, and I thought they played even better than good. I thought we were completely uncharacteristic the entire first half," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. "I thought in the first half we were pitiful...I think their length and athleticism when you're trying to play without assisted baskets becomes even more overwhelming."

The intermission didn't help the Golden Eagles regroup. North Carolina made its first four shots of the second half, with Barnes' three-pointer extending the margin to 49-17.

The Tar Heels' lead never dipped below 14 from there to send a 10th Big East team home early, as only Connecticut remains of the record number of selections from the power conference.

Game Notes

The Tar Heels gave up an average of 85 points in tourney wins over Long Island and Washington...North Carolina has a record 105 wins in the NCAAs...The Tar Heels have not lost a regional semifinal game since 1992, when they fell to Ohio State...These teams met in the 1977 NCAA championship game, with Marquette coming away victorious for its only title...Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette's leading scorer coming in with 16.0 points per game, was held to seven on 2-of-9 shooting...Jimmy Butler added 14 points for Marquette, while Jae Crowder ended with 11 points and eight rebounds in defeat.