North Carolina meets big Texas A&M squad

The Sports Xchange

Ninth-ranked North Carolina's objective is to stick with the process that works.

That's a similar approach for Texas A&M.


So the teams will be trying to draw on their strengths when they meet in the NCAA Tournament's second round Sunday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.

It makes sense that North Carolina is entrenched in the process because those methods helped produce a national championship last year.

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"I don't feel any pressure," senior guard Joel Berry II said. "This is our last (tournament), and we just want to enjoy it as much as we can and just do like we did last year and take it one game at a time and make sure we're focusing on the game that's coming up."

North Carolina (26-10), which is the West Region's No. 2 seed, and seventh-seeded Texas A&M (21-12) made it through the opening round unscathed.

"We turned it over too much (against Lipscomb), but a lot of stuff we did other than that was good," Tar Heels guard Cameron Johnson said. "Hopefully we can take this and build some momentum from it going into the next one."

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Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said he knows the Aggies have a luxury with their length along the front line. Three players at 6-foot-9 or taller will have to try to take advantage of North Carolina's relative inexperience in the post.

A 44-26 rebounding edge on Providence was evidence of what the Aggies can accomplish in that department.

"It's something we take pride in," said forward Robert Williams, who's listed at 6-10.

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"That's what we do," said Aggies forward Tyler Davis, also at 6-10.

Williams and Davis combined for 29 rebounds Friday. But the Tar Heels have long been considered one of the country's top rebounding groups.

Guard Admon Gilder, whose 18 points led four Texas A&M players in double-figure scoring in the first round, said an emphasis on defense is something the team takes seriously.

"We hang our hats on playing defense every day," Gilder said.

Berry, who was last year's Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four, reached a notable mark during Friday's game. He scored 14 points to move to 1,792 career points and into 13th place on the school's all-time list, passing legendary Michael Jordan. This NCAA venue is the home of the Charlotte Hornets, who are owned by Jordan.


"I think he left after three years, didn't he?" Berry said. "So it's kind of expected for me to pass him. ... But just to see highlights of him and to be able to have that honor, that's something great. I can always remember that."

Berry and forward Luke Maye both average 17 points for the Tar Heels, who are aiming to reach the Sweet 16 for the fourth year in a row. They've advanced out of the second round the last eight times they've held the better seed.

Texas A&M is North Carolina's fifth Southeastern Conference opponent in the last 10 second-round games in the tournament.

North Carolina holds a 2-1 series edge, though Texas A&M won a 1980 NCAA Tournament meeting in double overtime in Denton, Texas.

North Carolina is 34-1 in NCAA Tournament games in its home state. That includes a 12-0 record in Charlotte.

"Players play," coach Roy Williams said. "I've never lost to a building, but this has been very comfortable for us. Hopefully, it will last one more game."

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