Top seed North Carolina (-10) expects fast pace against Arkansas (o/u 162)
March 18, 2017 10:35 AM
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GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Arkansas wants to wear out opponents. That's a goal of North Carolina as well.
So the teams meet Sunday night in the NCAA Tournament's second round at Bon Secours Arena with similar objectives.
"That's what we do," Arkansas guard Dusty Hannahs said in attempting to keep a brisk pace and aiming to come out on the better end against a fatigued foe.
But North Carolina, which is the top-seeded team in the South Region, is a willing participant in a fast-paced game. The Tar Heels use depth as one of their weapons.
"We've got to attack them back," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said of the Razorbacks. "I think they do want to speed you up. We want to play at that pace ourselves. We want them to go fast. We want to go fast."
North Carolina had eight players log nine or more minutes in the first half of Friday's eventual 103-64 blasting of Texas Southern.
Eighth-seeded Arkansas was anxious to play fast in its 77-71 conquest of Seton Hall in the first round.
"It's one of those games that you want to play in," Hannahs said, knowing North Carolina was the likely opponent. "We've got to strap it on."
A faster pace is something Arkansas coach Mike Anderson endorses because he said fatigue might have played a factor in his team's favor in defeating Seton Hall.
"Once we sped them up or turned them over, I thought we made better decisions with the basketball," Anderson said. "We're a team, a second-half team. You don't know when it's going to come, those runs are going to come, those turnovers are going to come."
North Carolina point guard Joel Berry left the second half of Friday's game with what Williams called a slightly rolled ankle. Berry returned to the action briefly.
"My guess is it will stiffen up a little bit," Williams said. "But I feel certain that he'll be able to go."
North Carolina's other prolific scorer in the backcourt is junior swingman Justin Jackson, who needs one 3-point basket to set the school's single-season record. With five 3s in the Texas Southern game, he has 95 this season.
This will mark the third time in less than a decade that North Carolina and Arkansas meet in the tournament's second round. The Tar Heels won in 2008 and 2015.
Berry said he remembered taking on the Razorbacks when he was a freshman.
"They came out and competed and it was a fast game," Berry said. "It was tiring, but that's what it is supposed to be like. We are two teams that like to get up and down the court."
North Carolina senior guard Nate Britt said the Razorbacks are bound to be extra motivated.
"We beat them two years ago in the tournament, so I know they'll remember that," Britt said, recalling a meeting in Jacksonville, Fla. "(They) play more with a similar flow to us. I think it should be a fun game."
The 2008 final between the teams was 108-77, meaning Friday's point total against Texas Southern was North Carolina's most in the NCAAs since that meeting with Arkansas nine years ago.
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