Stanford Falls To North Carolina 74-57 In NIT Championship Game

Nov 29, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) - North Carolina, one of the youngest teams in the country, isoff to one of college basketball's best starts - and last season seems a longtime ago.

The Tar Heels, with their heralded freshman class again leading the way,beat Stanford 74-57 Friday night in the championship game of the Preseason NIT.

Their 5-0 start has the Tar Heels three wins short of matching their victorytotal from 2001-02, an 8-20 mark that was the worst in school history.

This is North Carolina's best start since it went 8-0 in 1998-99, a seasonthat also included a Preseason NIT championship over Stanford.

Rashad McCants had 18 points for the Tar Heels, while fellow freshmenRaymond Felton had 16 points and seven assists and Sean May added 12 points andseven rebounds.

It wasn't a perfect night for the Tar Heels, who withstood a scoring droughtin each half, but for a team that starts three freshmen and two sophomores, itwas another impressive performance.

North Carolina beat No. 2 Kansas 67-56 in Wednesday's semifinals, and therewas no letdown for the young team, even in its first extended outing against azone defense.

Josh Childress and Julius Barnes each had 17 points for Stanford (4-1),which beat then-No. 10 Xavier in the second round of the tournament and No. 7Florida in the semifinals.

In the third-place game, senior forward Matt Bonner and freshman forwardMatt Walsh each had 22 points to lead No. 7 Florida to an 83-73 victory overNo. 2 Kansas.

McCants, who was limited to 12 minutes in the first half because of foultrouble, opened the second half by hitting consecutive 3-pointers, and thensophomore Jackie Manuel hit another 3 to cap a 9-2 run that gave North Carolinaa 48-33 lead with 18:13 to play.

The Tar Heels went 5:20 without a field goal as the Cardinal pulled to63-51, but McCants, the tournament MVP, made one of two free throws and thenhad a driving dunk on the baseline to make it 66-51 with 5:38 left. Stanfordnever got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.

The Tar Heels made five of their first 10 3-point attempts in taking a 37-17lead with 5:24 to play in the first half. Felton had three of those 3s, and itwas his layup on a nice pass from Jawad Williams that made it 37-17.

As easily as the baskets were coming in the first 14� minutes for NorthCarolina, there weren't any to be made over the rest of the half. Stanford wasable to get to 39-31 with 14 seconds left in the half as the Tar Heels missedtheir last seven shots and turned the ball over three times.

Stanford, which committed eight turnovers in falling behind by 20, startingtaking better care of the ball and Barnes got hot, scoring nine of theCardinal's last 12 points of the half.

By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer

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