RALEIGH, N.C. -- Playing as if they had a bus to catch, the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels raced past outmatched Mount St. Mary's last night for a frenetic, 113-74 East Regional victory at the RBC Center.
It's unlikely the Tar Heels (33-2) will be traveling any distance any time soon, however. They get another game here tomorrow, and assuming they survive that, they'll play in Charlotte next weekend in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.
Carolina's athleticism and depth were too much for the 16th-seeded Mountaineers, who played a relatively strong first half and still found themselves trailing by 19 points.
"They did hit us right between the eyes with how hard they were coming up our backs," Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
The Mount dared to play the transition game with the Tar Heels. They gave up a staggering 60 points in the first half but managed to put 41 on Carolina, too. It was punch and counter-punch, and in the end, the bigger puncher won.
"Disregarding the score, we felt we played pretty well," Mountaineers point guard Jeremy Goode said. "At times we were competing pretty hard, and they had to respond to what we were doing."
The Mount (19-15) could run with Carolina for a time, but it couldn't rebound enough to stay in the game. The Tar Heels owned a dominating 48-22 advantage on the boards, scored 60 points in the paint and had 26 second-chance points.
After the first half, Carolina's pedigree took hold.
"After that, we were more gifted and talented," Williams said. "Our guys had a workmanlike attitude about playing the game."
The Mount had no answer for Player of the Year candidate Tyler Hansbrough (21 points, six rebounds), point guard Ty Lawson (21 points, four steals) or even reserve Alex Stepheson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Los Angeles who had 12 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes.
"It's like they send everyone to the glass, and they're just so athletic," said the Mount's Markus Mitchell, whose job was to defend the interior. "They send more to the glass than we're used to."
Chris Vann finished his Mount St. Mary's career with 16 points, and Goode added 15 with five assists. "We just didn't get enough bodies in the paint," Goode said.
The Tar Heels finished the half with a 6-0 run that became an 18-2 run at the outset of the second half. The Mount's deficit built steadily after that, hitting 40 with nine minutes to play.
Williams didn't second-guess the strategy of Mount coach Milan Brown to let the Mountaineers try to run with Carolina.
"If they held the ball, we might have won by the same margin," Williams said. "It might have been fewer [total] points."
Williams delivered a message of hope for Brown's program after the game.
"I did tell him I admired what they had done, looking at the tapes over the course of the nine or 10 games they had played [at the end of the season]," he said.