Nov. 24, 2004
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) - Rashad McCants scored 27 points and North Carolina rode a sharp first half to a 94-81 victory over Tennessee on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.
The 11th-ranked Tar Heels (2-1) will play Iowa in the championship game Wednesday. Iowa beat No. 15 Texas 82-80 on Tuesday.
This is North Carolina's fourth appearance in the Maui Invitational, which is sponsored by EA Sports, and the Tar Heels have always reached the title game. They won it in 1999 and finished second in 1989 and 1995.
They ensured their trip to the final game early against Tennessee (1-1) by shooting 65.4 percent from the field (17-for-26) in taking a 51-31 halftime lead.
Just as in the 86-50 opening-round win over Brigham Young, North Carolina again played impressive defense early, holding the Volunteers to 36.7 percent shooting (11-for-30) in the opening half.
Raymond Felton, who missed the Tar Heels' season-opening loss to Santa Clara because of a one-game suspension for playing in an unsanctioned summer league, had nine points and nine assists. As they did against BYU, the Tar Heels looked very comfortable with Felton back at point guard.
North Carolina shot 58.8 percent for the game (30-for-51).
McCants then hit his third 3-pointer of the game and Marvin Williams scored down low to get the lead back to 18 points.
Jawad Williams had 21 points for North Carolina and Sean May added nine points and 13 rebounds.
The loss dropped Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson to 0-3 against his alma mater. The Volunteers beat Stanford 69-57 in the opening round.