RICHMOND, Va. — Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, even basketball coaches.
To Dean Smith, Friday night's 82-77 victory over USC in the opening round of the Central Fidelity Holiday tournament here was somewhat inartistic. To USC Coach George Raveling, it was a worthy first effort.
Smith, referring to the first game in which host Richmond defeated Boston University, 66-61, said: "I thought the first game was more interesting. It was a better game to watch. At least the people got half their money's worth."
Raveling saw it differently. Though he was disappointed to lose after his team pulled to within two points with 7:54 left, he said: "I might've loved to have a seat about 20 rows up and just watched. It might've been more enjoyable."
The sellout crowd of 9,171 at Richmond's Robins Center probably would agree more with Raveling.
Though the third-ranked Tar Heels built leads of 12 points in the second half, nobody left as USC shot its way back into the game with a flurry of three-pointers.
The Trojans pulled to within 67-65, saw North Carolina rebuild the lead to 78-71 with 2:37 left, then got three-pointers from Anthony Pendleton and Brad Winslow to pull to within 80-77 with 12 seconds left.
But North Carolina's Ranzino Smith, fouled with five seconds left, hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the game away. The Tar Heels improved to 2-0. The Trojans (0-1) play Boston University at 4 p.m. PST today. Then, the Tar Heels will face Richmond and Smith said, "It'll be amazing to me if we can beat Richmond."
Raveling tried not to laugh when he heard that. It might have been his first laugh of the night.
"I'm not big on moral victories," he said. "That was probably as good an effort as any team I ever coached (has given). We just had some mental breakdowns that couldn't allow us to get over the hump."
The Trojans did a good job of containing J.R. Reid (11 points, 3 in the second half) and Scott Williams (13 points, 5 rebounds), and managed to hang in despite North Carolina's 27-13 advantage in foul shots.
But in the end, the Trojans were done in by North Carolina's backcourt tandem of Smith (19 points, 3 three-pointers) and Jeff Lebo (15 points, 6 assists, 4 three-pointers).
Smith hit a jumper after the Trojans pulled to within two points, and later hit a layup to build the lead back to six. Lebo drew a charge in the backcourt when the Trojans again had a chance to pull within two, and later made a three-pointer to rebuild the lead to 78-71.
"The thing that particularly impressed me about North Carolina down the stretch," Raveling said, "was their offensive patience, their shot selection, their ability to shoot fouls. I thought putting them in the one-and-one with 11 minutes left was the turning point."
Pendleton and Winslow, who scored 20 and 16 points, kept the Trojans in the game. Pendleton gave a preview of what was to come when he hit two three-pointers in the first minute as USC built a 10-2 lead. He finished with 6 three-pointers in 14 attempts, an effort Raveling called "the worst I've ever seen him shoot . . . he was too geared up."
Winslow came off the bench to score eight straight Trojan points in the first half, and hit the free throws that pulled USC to within a basket at 67-65, and a three-point bomb with 11 seconds left that kept the Trojans in shooting distance at 80-77. Winslow was 4 for 4 from three-point range. Overall the Trojans made 13 of 25 three-pointers. North Carolina hit 8 of 16.
"What I wanted to do was keep within a spread of four or five points with a couple minutes to go, and we might have a chance to steal a win," Raveling said.
It almost worked.
"What impresses me about a game like this is the enormous potential this team has," he added. "We have to build on this effort."
After the Trojans built their quick lead, the Tar Heels fought back to go ahead, 12-10, on strong rebounding and the shooting of Lebo.
The teams traded three-pointers for much of the first 15 minutes, and the Trojans took several leads as Winslow took over for Pendleton.
But the Trojans' sloppiness--11 turnovers in the half, several unforced--caught up with them and the Tar Heels built a lead that reached 46-37. A free throw by Dave Wiltz drew USC to within 46-38 at the half.
The Tar Heels built second-half leads that reached 63-52 with 10:58 left. But Smith said he never felt the margin was comfortable.
"We led the Atlantic Coast Conference in shooting three-pointers last year, so . . . (a lead of) 10 is nothing in college basketball," noted Smith, who added that the Trojans consistently beat his team downcourt as well.
Said Raveling: "We're going to keep shooting the three-pointer, and we're going to keep running and using a lot of people. Everybody we play is not going to have the depth Carolina has."
The tournament was the first game for everyone but North Carolina. . . . North Carolina outrebounded USC, 41-33, but the Trojans had the second-half advantage, 22-18. . . . Bob Erbst had 9 rebounds, 7 in the second half. J.R. Reid led all rebounders with 12. USC point guard Dave Wiltz had 8 assists. . . . The tournament field, notably North Carolina, drew the sixth sellout in the 15-year history of Robins Center. . . . Boston University trailed by 12 points early in the second half but fought back to tie Richmond, 61-61, with 2:10 left before losing. . . . Guard Drederick Irving, who figures to become Boston University's career scoring leader, led the Terriers with 30 points including the three-pointer that tied the game. Forward Larry Jones added 16 points and 9 rebounds. Forward Pete Woolfok was Richmond's top player with 25 points including the three-point play that broke the tie.