ST. LOUIS -- Earlier this season, when North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller was racking up double-double after the double-double, he said he didn’t know what it would take to record a 20-rebound game.
After Friday, he does.
“Overtime,’’ he said, grinning after UNC’s 73-65 OT win over Ohio.
The 7-foot senior finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds, becoming only the fourth player in the past 30 seasons to record 20 points and 20 rebounds in a Men's Basketball Championship game and the first since Tim Duncan in 1997, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He joins quite a trio:
In 1997, Wake Forest’s Duncan finished with 22 points and 22 rebounds against St. Mary’s.
In 1995, Maryland's Joe Smith had 31 points and 21 rebounds against Texas.
In 1983, Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon recorded 21 points and 22 rebounds against Louisville.
Zeller credited his size (Ohio's tallest starter was 6-8) for the performance. But injured point guard Kendall Marshall said there's more to it.
"The steps that he's made each year have been great. He's a senior, he knows that this is his team,'' Marshall said. "He wants to lead us ... the effort he puts in every day is a testament to the kind of player he is, and I'm extremely happy for him. We wouldn't be where we are without him."
WHITE’S DEBUT: Freshman Stilman White admits he probably wasn’t as nervous as he should have been, making his first collegiate start -- in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
But that worked in his favor. Saying “my main goal was not to turn the ball over very much,’’ he achieved that, finishing with a career high six assists, plus zero turnovers, in 32 minutes. He also buried the last two free throws of the game.
“He was really something,’’ coach Roy Williams said.
Of the eight Tar Heels who played, White was the only one who did not commit a turnover.
“I’ve got a great team; I’ve just got to get the ball to some great players,’’ he said.
ROUGH NIGHT FOR BARNES: It was a frustrating night for sophomore Harrison Barnes, who shot 3-for-16, including a missed game-winner at the end of regulation.
"The youngster has an ability to make plays and he's not afraid to try to make plays,'' UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Some kids will always say, 'Yeah, I want to have that shot,' but he's the kind of kid that does really want it, and he focuses on the play, not the result.
"So we all have a tremendous amount of confidence. It didn't work out there at the end of regulation, but give the defensive player credit, too."
Barnes went on to score five of the Tar Heels' 10 points in overtime -- a jumper and two free throws. He finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 turnovers for the game.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.