NEW YORK -- There was so much to talk about after North Carolina (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) held on for 77-73 victory over No. 15 Ohio State in the 2K Sports Classic semifinals Thursday night.
There was the Tar Heels' big early lead that dwindled to two points in the final minute, something that can happen even to a fourth-ranked team early in the season. There was the exceptional defensive job by Marcus Ginyard on Ohio State's Evan Turner, something that has become common for a player considered one of the top stoppers in the country. There was coach Roy Williams' halftime rant directed at Ginyard, something that never happens.
"I chewed his rear end out probably the hardest I've ever got on him," Williams said of the fifth-year senior. "If I'm going to chew him out, it scares the dickens out of the rest of the team. He's one of my pets."
The one-way halftime discussion worked as North Carolina was in control until the final minute.
"That was the worst I can remember," Ginyard said of Williams' yelling session. "But he was right. If I'm going to be a leader of this team I have to play better, and I did in the second half."
Ginyard finished with 13 points and was 3 of 5 from 3-point range. But it was his defense on Turner that made the difference in the win that sent the Tar Heels (4-0) into Friday night's championship game against Syracuse, which beat California (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) 95-73 in the tournament the benefits Coaches vs. Cancer.
"No question, I take challenges like tonight very personally, and I get really excited about facing players like him," Ginyard said of Turner, who had a triple-double in Ohio State's opening win over Alcorn State with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. He matched that feat against the Tar Heels, but it was a lot different as he finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 turnovers.
The 6-foot-7 junior swingman, who had 17 rebounds in each of the first two games, couldn't go anywhere on the court without Ginyard, who missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Turner's time was limited as well by foul trouble, and his second personal was an offensive drawn by Ginyard.
"It was a rough night, obviously," Turner said. "I'm bumped and bruised and I'll be back tomorrow.
"It was a rough first half, rough first 30 minutes of the game. They did a great job, and we just got to bounce back."
Deon Thompson had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who led by 19 points with 10:23 to play.
The Buckeyes (2-1) finally started hitting from the outside at the same time the Tar Heels starting missing free throws, and Ohio State was within 75-73 on a 3 by Jon Diebler with 11 seconds left.
Larry Drew II, who missed four of his previous six free throws in the final minute, then made two from the line with 11 seconds left for the final margin.
"I wanted the ball in my hands, especially for the last two free throws," Drew said. "You have to go through bad times to enjoy the highs, and I enjoyed making those last two free throws."
Ohio State chipped away at the lead and was finally within single digits when David Lighty scored on a drive that made it 68-60 with 2:09 to go. Ginyard hit a 3 with the shot clock winding down to make it 71-60 with 1:36 to go, but the Buckeyes finally hit from the outside as William Buford and Lighty hit 3s as Drew struggled at the line.
Will Graves had 14 points for North Carolina, the defending national champions who have only one starter back from the team that beat Michigan State in April, and Drew finished with 11 points and eight assists and was 6 of 10 from the line.
Diebler had 17 points for Ohio State, which finished 6 of 21 from 3-point range after going 1 of 10 in the first half.
"We feel very fortunate," Williams said. "We have a chance to be a very good basketball team, but I want it a lot sooner than it's coming."
The Tar Heels had the lead to 10 points within the first 6 minutes, and it reached 16 points three times, the first at 29-13 on a 3-pointer by Ginyard with 5:40 left in the half.
Ohio State missed its first nine 3-point attempts, and the Buckeyes finished 1 of 10 from beyond the arc and shot just 29 percent (9 for 31) overall in falling behind 38-24 at the half.
"We obviously made a great comeback," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "I thought the first half we couldn't get the ball in the basket. We had some decent looks, the shots weren't falling for us. We had a stretch where I think we lost our composure, and they were able to get it to a double-digit lead. ... Hopefully we learned a lesson there getting ourselves ready to go right from the start."