LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- Raymond Felton did everything to get
North Carolina another Maui Invitational championship.
The junior point guard ran the offense as he always does,
defended the opponent's best backcourt player as he always does and
even threw in a couple of highlight-tape moves in the Tar Heels' (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) 106-92 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night.
Oh, and he did it all one day after his hurting his left wrist.
"I was in pain the whole time, but I just forgot about it,"
Felton said. "I love my teammates to death, the coaching staff,
Coach Williams. I'll always give them 100 percent."
It was the fourth Maui Invitational title game in as many
appearances for the Tar Heels (3-1) and they headed back to the
mainland with a second championship trophy. And even though Rashad
McCants had 22 points, Felton was the main reason, so he was
selected the tournament MVP.
His stats weren't overly impressive -- 13 points, nine assists,
five rebounds and four steals -- but it was the defensive job he did
on Iowa's Jeff Horner that set the tone for the Tar Heels.
"We talked about how Horner is the key to their whole team
because he shoots with such range he spreads your defense," Tar
Heels coach Roy Williams said. "Whoever is guarding him has to
keep him in front of them but be close enough to do something.
Raymond is our best on the ball defender and his play was important
to us on both ends of the court. He established the tempo on the
offensive end and he's difficult to dribble penetrate against on
the defensive end."
Horner averaged 22.5 points in the first two games for the
Hawkeyes (3-1), shooting 22-for-40 from the field. Felton, playing
with a bandage on his left wrist, just wouldn't let Horner get the
ball where he wanted it.
Horner took just four shots in the first half and made two, and
had six points as North Carolina took a 59-40 lead. The Tar Heels
shot 58 percent in the first half, closing the opening 20 minutes
by making 11 of their last 14 shots.
In its semifinal win over Tennessee, North Carolina made 14 of
its last 17 shots in the first half to take control.
"I think more than what Felton did defensively was how he broke
our defense down," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "He was
tremendous. He made shots and he does such a great job of setting
everybody else up. Nine assists and one turnover. He had a very,
very good game and he's as good a point guard as we've played."
Adam Haluska had 19 points and Horner added 18 for Iowa, which
beat Louisville (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) and Texas (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) to reach the championship game.
"Three games in three days is one thing but Louisville, Texas
and North Carolina, all top 15 teams, that's a whole other level,"
Alford said. "We found out a lot and I feel there's great
potential with this team."
Felton missed the Tar Heels' season-opening loss to Santa Clara
because of a one-game suspension from the NCAA for playing in an
unsanctioned summer league game. He said he was almost in tears on
the bench watching that loss, but brought nothing by smiles with
two moves early in the second half.
The 6-foot-1 Felton used a quick crossover dribble to get by a
defender and threw down a vicious dunk to make it 71-48 with 16:36
Less than two minutes later, he took a pass near midcourt, took
the ball around his back to avoid a defender and laid it in
left-handed, showing no signs of trouble with the wrist, to make it
"It was just basic instinct, just my ability that's about it,"
Felton said of the two plays. "When I made the crossover, I saw an
opportunity to dunk and that's what I did. In transition, I went
behind my back and tried to finish the layup."
It was the second Maui Invitational title for Roy Williams; he
won with Kansas in 1996. In attendance were Dean Smith, the Hall of
Fame coach who led the Tar Heels here in the first appearance, and
Bill Guthridge, who coached North Carolina to its other title.
Iowa won the eight-team tournament, which is sponsored by EA
Sports, in 1987.