North Carolina 108, Arkansas 77

No. 1 North Carolina proves far too powerful for Arkansas as the Tar Heels roar past the Razorbacks 108-77 Sunday afternoon in th e second round of the NCAA Tournament at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Just seconds into Sunday's game, rail-thin Vincent Hunter blocked the shot of likely national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough.

It was pretty much all downhill from there.

Wayne Elington had 20 points, Ty Lawson 19, Hansbrough 17 and Deon Thompson 16 as No. 1 North Carolina dominated ninth-seeded Arkansas from start to finish in a 108-77 dismantling of the Razorbacks in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the RBC Center.

"Arkansas had some open shots in the first half that they just missed," North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said. "When you add that to how well we played, it was a pretty tough day for them, but they are a really good basketball team that today just wasn't their day."

Alex Stephenson added 10 for the Tar Heels (34-2), who shot 67.7 percent from the field while playing before some 18,000 of their own fans just 30 minutes from their campus and had blitzed Mount St. Mary's 113-74 on Friday.

After that aforementioned block, North Carolina scored on 15 of its next 16 possessions.

"Certainly in every game you would like to get off to a good start," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "It is a game of runs. We're still waiting on ours.

"Carolina was just better than us today," Pelphrey added. "...We lost this game everywhere and anyway you want to look at it, they were just better than us. And that happens. Certainly had we beaten them, I think that probably would have surprised some people.

"I thought they were just ready to go," Pelphrey continued. "They played really well defensively. They rebound the ball. They are always fast. They shot it, got big-time performances from a lot of different people. You've got to give them credit, their players and their coaches."

North Carolina, winners of 12 straight, move on to nearby Charlotte to play Washington State in the Sweet 16 next weekend.

"They're a tough team," North Carolina's Danny Green said afterwards. "We thought it was going to be a close game but we came out and knocked down some shots, ran them a little bit, got some easy lay-ups and got them in foul trouble. We went up big and kind of kept them down."

Sonny Weems had 19 points and Darian Townes 15 points and 9 rebounds and Patrick Beverley 14 to lead Arkansas (23-12), which had beaten Indiana 86-72 on Friday night in its opener.

"Every shot they shot, it seemed like they just kept going in - contested, uncontested, every shot was just going in," Beverley said. "You've got to give them a lot of credit. They're a great basketball team with a great coach and great players."

It was the last game for six Arkansas seniors, who helped lead the program to three straight NCAA Tournaments after a five-year drought from the Big Dance.

"It's very emotional," Weems said. "You're saying that you don't want your career to be over, your college basketball career because you miss the players on this team and miss the coaching staff. I love this coaching staff."

Townes echoed those same sentiments.

"I had fun," Townes said. "I enjoyed Arkansas. This was my second home. It went really fast...Going through the coaching change was pretty tough. I love John Pelphrey."

Weems added this about Pelphrey.

"He brought a lot from the stance of coaching and disciplining us," Weems said. "I think the guys on this team really found a coach they could put their trust in and listen to. He will always tell you the truth. We learned a lot from him. I think speaking for the players on this team, we love him and his coaching staff to death. I wouldn't trade any other coach for him."

North Carolina scored the first nine points of the game and were up 19-4 when Hansbrough scored inside with 14:20 remaining.

Arkansas got within 20-9 on Weems' 3-pointer, but the Tar Heels surged back out to a 35-11 margin just under the 10-minute mark.

Hansbrough's layup made it 40-18 and Weems' jumper near the end of the half just pulled the Razrbacks within 51-26.

Williams didn't let up on his team according to Stephenson.

"He was in there talking about how we needed to get more stops. 'Don't be happy right now. They're still hungry, a team full of seniors. When we got out there we have to keep that edge, just buckle down from the get-go because they are going to come after us."

Hanbrough's jumper just into the second half pushed the lead to 27, the Razrbacks got no closer than 21 and it eventually grew to 36.

North Carolina kept its starters in the game until 3:14 remained and the Tar Heels had a 103-67 advantage.

"I think you've got to give Carolina all the credit," Pelphrey said. "I don't think there was a time where we ever got it going or we played well for a stretch. That's a tribute to their guys both offensively and defensively. They kept us out of rhythm, basically the whole day on both ends of the floor."

Pelphrey did laud his team for their year. "Like I told the guys in the locker room, hey we lost a game today, but we did not lose our season," Pelphrey said. "I'm proud of these guys.

"...I think we made some progress and if we didn't, we wouldn't be here at this point in time and be one of the last 32 teams standing. And some things they have done are significant now.

"They won more games than in the regular season than a year ago and won more league games. We had a chance to get back to the finals two straight years in the SEC Tournament, we won the first NCAA game in nine years and we did it against a program that had two All-Americans. I am proud of what this team accomplished."

Photos by Marc F. Henning

Darian Townes battles for one of his nine rebounds.

Sonny Weems gets a shot off between North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson.

Patrick Beverley and Stefan Welsh force a turnover from Danny Green.

Micheal Washington battles for a loose ball.

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