UNC loses 20-point lead, but wins
by Steve Wieberg, Special for USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – His first head coaching win came in 1988, when Roy Williams took over a Kansas program coming off a national championship but also an NCAA infractions case.
“I just wondered if I was still going to be the coach at the end of the year at that point,” he remembered Friday.
Here Williams is, 25 seasons and – with a 78-71 victory over Villanova in the Tar Heels’ NCAA opener – 700 wins later.
BOX SCORE: North Carolina 78, Villanova 71
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In his 25th season, with a record of 700-179 at Kansas and Carolina, he became the third-fastest coach in Division I history to hit that benchmark. Only Adolph Rupp (in 836 games) and Jerry Tarkanian (in 876) got there more quickly.
Williams is fourth active coach to get there behind Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Huggins.
“Seven hundred, that’s neat. A lot of players at Kansas and North Carolina have made that happen, and I realize it,” he said.
“I’m human. I wanted to get 700. I’d like to get 800, 900, a thousand, fifteen hundred – I know that’s not going to happen. But my focus was not on that. It really wasn’t. It was trying to get No. 25 (this season) and have this team stay and play another game.”
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The next one may be more difficult. The Tar Heels, 25-10 and seeded eighth in the West, figure to play top-seeded Kansas, which met Western Kentucky later Friday.
Carolina rolled to a 20-point lead against Villanova in the first half, saw the Wildcats scramble back to tie, then move ahead twice in the second, and finally regained their footing with back-to-back three-pointers by Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston.
North Carolina took control with three treys by Hairston, Bullock and Hairston again in a little more than a minute, making it 63-54 with 5:09 left. Hairston finished 23 points, James McAdoo with 17 and Bullock with 15.
Ninth-seeded Villanova (20-14) got 20 points from forward JayVaughn Pinkston.
MARCH SADNESS: TEAMS ON THE LOSING END OF NCAA … [For more on North Carolina loses 20-point lead, but tops Villanova, click here.]