Providence had a chance to upset North Carolina in Friday’s first-round matchup in the East Region, but senior Friars guard Bryce Cotton was unable to grab an important rebound in the final seconds and the Tar Heels escaped with a victory.
No. 6 seed UNC (24-9) will play the winner between No. 3 seed Iowa State and No. 14 North Carolina Central in the third round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
Cotton scored a career-high 36 points and also hit many clutch shots in the second half to keep No. 11 seed Providence (23-12) in the game. He also added eight assists in the final game of his collegiate career. Cotton, who played the entire game, was one of three Providence starters who got 38-plus minutes of playing time.
Sophomore guard Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting. Junior forward James Michael McAdoo chipped in 16 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, and his two free throws with 3.5 seconds left in regulation sealed the victory for UNC.
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