Updated 1:10 a.m.
LAS VEGAS — Early in the first half of North Carolina’s 87-62 victory against South Carolina here at the Orleans Arena on Friday night, the Tar Heels played like they wanted Roy Williams to be proud of their defense – like they remembered how Williams had chided their defense earlier this week.
It was after UNC’s 33-point victory against Tennessee State on Tuesday when Williams said the Tar Heels’ defense made him “chew their rear ends out” at halftime. There was no need for that on Friday night – not after top-ranked UNC forced South Carolina into 17 first-half turnovers and made the Gamecocks (2-3) look, at times, overwhelmed during the semifinals of the Las Vegas Invitational.
With the victory, North Carolina (5-0) advanced to play tonight against UNLV (6-0) in the championship game of the invitational. Despite shooting 41 percent, the Running Rebels prevailed in a 66-55 victory against Southern Cal in the first semifinal game. UNLV will be playing tonight a few miles from its campus.