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UNC is headed to the Sweet Sixteen after blowing past Washington 81-59

For the fourth time in five years, Carolina is back in the Sweet Sixteen.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round: University of Washington vs UNC Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Luke Maye and Nassir Little scored 20 points each as North Carolina advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with an 81-59 win over Washington. There were a couple close injury calls in the game, but both seemed to resolve without causing too much damage before the game was done. The Tar Heels will now look ahead to Kansas City and their date with the Auburn Tigers.

Coby White came out on fire for UNC in the first half. He had four three-pointers before halftime, scoring 12 of his 17 points before the break. Washington’s defense really clamped down on the freshman point guard in the second half, but that opened up opportunities for his teammates. Maye and Little were both incredibly effective down the stretch for UNC. They combined for nearly half of Carolina’s total points on the Heels’ way to shooting 51% from the field.

Three-pointers had been a little difficult to come by for UNC the last couple games, but White and Cameron Johnson were able to repeatedly nail shots from downtown against the Huskies. Each team made nine of their shots from distance, but Carolina held Washington to just 29% shooting in the second half.

One of the only reasons the Tar Heels were merely up eight points and not more at halftime was turnovers. They turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and allowed Washington to nab five steals. The Huskies scored 16 of their 33 points off those turnovers, allowing them to keep it close through the first 20 minutes.

While Carolina was led by Little and Maye, White finished the game with 17 points and six rebounds. Johnson also finished the game in double figures with 13 points and seven assists. Maye pulled down 14 rebounds, assisting in UNC’s domination on the boards. The Heels out-rebounded Washington 48-24.

UNC was able to largely defeat Washington’s zone by getting inside. They scored 38 points in the paint and assisted on 18 of their 32 makes. Little and White’s combined 37 points were the most by two UNC freshman since Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green scored 39 against Murray State. It was Maye’s 15th double-double of the season.

There were two brief moments of worry on the injury front for UNC. Garrison Brooks got elbowed in the mouth in the first half, losing two teeth and lacerating his lip in the process. He missed the remainder of the half while they tried to get him stitched up enough to come back. He returned in the second half and seemed to be alright aside from needing dental work ASAP. Kenny Williams injured him hamstring early in the second half. He, too, missed a chunk of time before ultimately returning. Both of those could have been worse but seemed to not be an issue when it was all said and done, thankfully.

The Tar Heels will now head to Kansas City for a date with Auburn next weekend. The Tigers have made bank on three-point shooting so far, so Carolina will need to sharpen up their perimeter defense and hope that the threes that were falling today can follow them slightly farther west.