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Macon fuels burst but flame runs out

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GREENVILLE, S.C. ---- Daryl Macon's four-point play with 5:08 remaining in the opening half was one of few positives for Arkansas early in its second-round matchup with top-seeded North Carolina.

The junior guard's corner three-pointer and ensuing free throw halted a 14-2 run that had the Tar Heels threatening to run away and win in blowout fashion.

What they’re saying about UA-UNC

DUSTY HANNAHS

Arkansas Razorbacks

I’m sorry. I gave y’all ever single ounce I had left in my body. Thanks for having me Razorback Nation.

JONATHAN JONES

Sports Illustrated

North Carolina’s redemption tour almost came to a halt Sunday at the hands of Arkansas. The Tar Heels’ 72–65 win against the Razorbacks ensures that one half of last year’s epic national title game will be in the Sweet 16.

SETH DAVIS

CBS Sports

Truly an inspired effort by the Hogs. Just didn’t make the plays down the stretch. March happens.

SCOTT FOWLER

Raleigh News & Observer

The Tar Heels won’t win like they did against Arkansas again. If they shoot 38 percent again for a game and make 17 turnovers, they will lose in a hurry.

SAM COOPER

Yahoo.com

North Carolina, which moves on to face No. 4 seed Butler on Thursday in Memphis, had to win this one ugly. The Heels proved Sunday that they can win ugly if they have to, but a much better offensive showing is necessary if they want to make it back to the Final Four and beyond.

CHIP PATTERSON

CBSSports.com

UNC looked shook on offense, didn’t shoot the ball well and turned the ball over 17 times. But when it was time to go and win the game they did so with lockdown defense, closing out the final three minutes on a 12-0 run. One thing is for sure, it wasn’t UNC’s best performance.

The play cut the Tar Heels' lead to 30-17, but more important, it kickstarted a run during which Arkansas outscored the ACC champions 37-16 over the course of 13:11 to turn a double-digit deficit into a 50-46 lead.

Macon was the catalyst during the game-altering stretch when the Razorbacks, not North Carolina, looked like one of nation's top teams. He scored 14 of his game-high 19 points during the run, including 12 in the final 5:08 of the first half as Arkansas cut North Carolina's lead to 38-33 by halftime.

North Carolina ended up winning 72-65, but Macon was a large part of the reason the Hogs gave the No. 1 seed a scare.

"He was hurting us," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He made 10 points in three possessions."

The four-point play sparked him. Less than three minutes later, he was fouled on another three-pointer and sank all three free throws. And he nailed another three-pointer with 12 seconds left in the half to cut the Tar Heels' lead to just four.

"He did a great job getting his shot off," North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks said. "He drew a couple fouls from the three-point line and kind of got him going."

Macon kept it going in the second half in what turned out to be a reversal to form.

He struggled in the opening-round victory over Seton Hall, making 1 of 7 shots, but his three-pointer with 8:16 left gave the Hogs a 58-55 lead and he ended up making 6 of 8 shots, 3 of 5 three-pointers and all four of his free throws.

The game changed when Macon went down with leg cramps with 4:43 remaining. Just 14 seconds earlier, he had scored to push the Hogs' lead to 63-60.

"When he got out of the game I think they kind of didn't have that three-point threat," Meeks said.

"It was big for us that he got hurt," Williams said.

Macon was one of three Razorbacks who went down in the second half. Fellow junior guards Anton Beard and Jaylen Barford also missed stretches of time.

North Carolina took advantage of Macon's absence. The Tar Heels outscored the Hogs 6-2 while he was on the bench to retake a 66-65 lead by the time he returned with 1:44 left.

"He left his heart out on the floor," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "I think that's what causes cramping. We saw a lot of our guys, they left it out on the floor."

Macon returned to the game and wound up with the ball in his hands and the shot clock winding down . He tried to create separation to get off his shot, but his potential go-ahead three-pointer was tipped by Meeks and landed out of bounds, as Arkansas ended the game with six consecutive scoreless possessions.

"That's the hardest we ever played," Macon said. "We just ran out of gas. Or you could say we just ran out of time."

Sports on 03/20/2017

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