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Marilyn Payne

Jackson leads Tar Heels past Tigers in NCAA First Round, 103-64

Posted March 17

North Carolina handled Texas Southern about the way a No. 1 seed should play a No. 16 seed and moved on to the second round with a 103-64 win.

The Tar Heels (28-7) trailed twice in the opening minutes, then a 16-0 run put the team in control for good.

"They came out and played their game," Meeks said. "We matched their pace, which we didn't want to do because they're a capable team. Once we got it going, we shared the ball and it slowed them down."

The Tigers (23-12) did close the game to nine points in the second half, but Justin Jackson (21 points, 8-for-13 FG, 5-for-8 from three) answered with four three-pointers on the team's next five possessions. On the other trip down the court in that span, Kenndy Meeks (13 points) finished the possession he started with a block and steal by dunking the ball to continue UNC's run.

"Whether I felt it or not, I go into every game thinking that I'm going to hit shots," Jackson said. "I think I always had it, it just didn't fall for me. To see them fall, it was good."

Roy Williams called timeout with seven seconds left in the first half and drew up a play hoping to get Justin Jackson a three-point look, but scoreless Joel Berry sank the shot with Jackson well defended. The shot at the buzzer pushed Carolina's lead to 52-27 at the break.

Less than four minutes into the second half, Berry landed on a defender's foot and rolled his right ankle. The junior point guard walked off the court on his own, but immediately went into the locker room.

"Everything's good, I'm fine," Berry said. "It's a little sore, but other than that I'm fine. I pulled up for a three, the guy came up under me and I rolled my ankle on his foot."

Berry returned to the team huddle at the first media timeout, then sat on the hardwood in front of the scorer's table to enter the game with around 12 minutes to play. The game went into break again and Berry took the court afterward.

"I want to be out there competing," he said. "I don't want to go down in the first round like that."

On Carolina's third possession with Berry back on the court, he missed a layup to the right side of the basket and stayed on the floor longer than he ordinarily would after falling while driving to the basket. Berry stayed back on UNC's end of the court, but he didn't go to the post ready for the fast-break play when the Tar Heels got the ball back, he hung to the right wing and Tony Bradley scored in the post.

"I was just getting back out there trying to test it," Berry said. "When I went to the hole, I got fouled. I just didn't want to push it too hard. I could've sprinted back, but I don't want to push it too much."

North Carolina faces Arkansas Sunday and hopes to continue asserting its post-season experience against its opponent early.

"I just know this team, we want to get back to where we were last year," Berry said. "We really didn't need any motivation or anything. We did a good job of coming out, not giving them confidence to where they thought they could play with us."

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