Heels outwork Vols

LAHAINA, Hawaii --- The Tar Heels are back in another Maui Invitational championship game, after pouncing on Tennessee early en route to a 94-81 win Tuesday night.

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  • Rashad McCants led the way with 27 points, as North Carolina (2-1) shot 65.4 percent from the field (17-for-26) in the first half to take a commanding 51-31 halftime lead.

    "I just rode my teammates' energy," McCants said. "They gave me the ball in the right position to score and everything else took care of itself."

    Just as in the 86-50 opening-round win over Brigham Young, North Carolina also capitalized on stifling defense, holding the Volunteers to 36.7 percent shooting (11-for- 30) in the opening half.

    "In the first half we did a great job on defense and that's what got us going," said Sean May, who had nine points and 13 rebounds. "Sometimes defense can take over the game. We let down a little bit in the second half and we have to get over that and finish a game for 40 minutes."

    Raymond Felton had nine points and nine assists, in his second game, since missing the season-opening loss to Santa Clara. As was the case against BYU, it was smooth sailing for Carolina with Felton at the controls. North Carolina shot 58.8 percent for the game (30-for-51).

    Chris Lofton was 6-for-10 from 3-point range and had 22 points for Tennessee, which closed to 82-69 with 4:53 to play on two free throws by C.J. Watson.

    McCants then hit his third 3-pointer of the game and Marvin Williams scored down low to get the lead back to 18 points.

    "In the second half we were a little more lackadaisical than I would have liked, but they were aggressive in the second half," Roy Williams said. "But I'll tell you, we were pretty doggone good in the first half."

    Jawad Williams had 21 points for North Carolina.

    "Their pressure got to us a little bit and we took some quick shots, and pressure will do that," Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson said. "Carolina defends and they have weapons and depth, and when McCants gets it going there aren't many players that talented in the country."

    The Tar Heels will play Iowa in the championship game Wednesday. Iowa beat Texas 82-80 on Tuesday.

    "The two games I've seen Iowa play they've been sensational," Roy Williams said. "They have very competitive kids and we have to be just as competitive."

    This is North Carolina's fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational and the fourth time they've reached the title game. They won it in 1999 and finished second in 1989 and 1995.

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