Ninth-ranked North Carolina made it look easy on Monday with a bevy of 3-pointers. Butler survived with a spectacular, buzzer-beating 3 from Rotnei Clarke.
They face off in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. The winner will face Chaminade or Illinois in Wednesday’s title game.
A few things to watch:
The Tar Heels connected on 15 of their 32 3-point attempts against Mississippi State on Monday and finally looked well on their way to proving they are, indeed, the good outside-shooting team they claimed to be in the preseason. The key now is consistency. Wings Reggie Bullock, Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston combined to make 14 of their 21 3-point shots; that accuracy needs to continue.
Butler, meanwhile, has struggled from long distance, making only 27 percent of its 3s for the season and going 4-for-21 (19 percent) in its one-point thrilling win over Marquette. But the Bulldogs shot 44.3 percent for the game, turned the ball over only seven times and were aggressive on the offensive boards.
It’s going to be difficult not to keep an eye on this guy after his running-one-handed, falling 3-point heave at the buzzer.
The transfer from Arkansas, who sat out last season per NCAA rules, was 7-for-21 overall against Marquette and made all four of his team’s 3-pointers. And he’s no stranger to scoring points. The 6-foot guard averaged 15.2 ppg for the Razorbacks in 2010-11; he’s averaging 16 ppg for the Bulldogs. UNC’s defenders will have their hands full.
Lost in all of UNC’s 3-pointers Monday was the fact that freshman point guard Marcus Paige didn’t have a very noteworthy game. He shot 1-for-7 and had as many turnovers (three) as assists -- and that was against a not-very-good-to-say-the-least foe. He’ll get a chance Tuesday night to redeem himself against his toughest college competition yet. Decision-making and taking care of the ball will be key against an experienced Butler team.