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Meeks shoots, and rebounds, and saves the day for Tar Heels

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Given the late lead and Oregon's own terrible shooting (37.9 percent), losing this one might have felt every bit as bad as the Villanova loss a year ago for North Carolina (33-6) which led the entire second half and appeared poised several times for a knockout of the Ducks (32-7).

It was all part of a career night for the North Carolina senior, who was on the bench previous year when Villanova devastatingly ended the Tar Heels' chance at a title with a three-pointer at the buzzer.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Zach Collins scores, rebounds, blocks shots and makes predictions. The Bulldogs have been a top-five team for most of the year, while the Gamecocks have emerged as a Cinderella after getting a No. 7 seed in the tournament. The turnovers flew in every direction.

North Carolina lost to Villanova in last year's championship game in Houston.

The bad news: He's hurting — and the injuries are affecting his shot.

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina prediction and game preview, as the No. 1 Bulldogs and No. 1 Tar Heels face off in the National Championship Game of the NCAA Tournament.

"The thing that's easy to say and easy to understand, we're relieved", said UNC coach Roy Williams.

UNC faced its largest deficit of the NCAA Tournament after Dylan Ennis made back-to-back corner threes to push Oregon's lead to 30-22 with 4:08 to play before halftime. "Coach told us it was going to be a man's game, and us four big men had to do a great job on the inside".

The end also left the former Kansas coach with an impulse to "jump off a building" as the Heels missed four free throws in the last 5.8 seconds.

Combined with offensive rebounds and stout interior D, with the Ducks' own uncharacteristic stumbles on the offensive end added in - OR had what seemed like dozens of decent looks at 3 down the stretch - Carolina never trailed in the second half.

The victor of the Oregon-UNC game will face Gonzaga for the title on Monday night.

"The first one, it just got tipped and they got it", OR guard Casey Benson said. For Pinson, it was as simple as knowing all about where one teammate is most comfortable catching the ball or how high another can get up to haul in a lob pass. I had two opportunities, " Bell said.

Karnowski went down late in the first half after being swiped across the right eye by South Carolina's Chris Silva.

The official who received death threats from Kentucky fans after the Elite Eight is the crew chief for the Final Four game between SC and Gonzaga. A dreary, formless national semifinal with OR had wound its way into something oddly stirring. In that play, Meeks was sent to the line after drawing a foul while going for a layup.

The freshman 7-footer from Gonzaga had quite a night in the Bulldogs' 77-73 victory over SC on Saturday in the Final Four. North Carolina won 77-76.

Dillon Brooks has been the leader for OR all season, but struggled, finishing with 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting before fouling out.

OR took the lead briefly in the first after the Tar Heels went on a three-minute scoring drought.

Still playing, largely because of two players. He also had his shot blocked on a drive into several North Carolina players with 81 seconds left. But if it wanted to finish what it started 19 years ago, to go from plucky upstart to brass-knuckled powerhouse, it needed to go further.

That didn't happen. Senior Isaiah Hicks continued his abrupt late-season fade by missing 11 of 12 shots and finishing with 2 points.

"I let my team down", Brooks said. Yet they still managed to lead in the game during that span.

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