GREENSBORO, N.C. — John Henson had a great seat on the North Carolina sideline to watch his teammates advance in the NCAA Tournament. The question is how long the Tar Heels will have to win without him, not to mention if his sore left wrist will heal enough to make him a factor in March at all.
Tyler Zeller had 17 points and 15 rebounds to help North Carolina beat Vermont 77-58 on Friday in its tournament opener despite playing without its shot-blocking and rebound-snatching starter.
The top-seeded Tar Heels (30-1) didn’t turn in a rousing performance, but they had a danger-free afternoon against the Catamounts (24-12).
XAVIER 67, NOTRE DAME 63
Tu Holloway banked in the go-ahead shot over Jack Cooley with 21.3 seconds left, helping Xavier rally to beat Notre Dame in the second round.
Holloway finished with 25 points on 10 for 15 shooting, including a flurry that helped the 10th-seeded Musketeers (22-12) rally from a 10-point second-half deficit against the seventh-seeded Fighting Irish (22-12). His final points came when he rounded a screen from Kenny Frease and sent a high-arcing shot over Cooley’s outstretched arm for the 64-63 lead.
After a free throw from Dezmine Wells pushed the lead to two, Notre Dame’s Eric Atkins drew a blocking foul to get to the line with 2.8 seconds left. He swished the first free throw, but an official ruled that Jerian Grant left his position behind the 3-point arc too early as he ran in for a rebound, giving the ball back to Xavier.
CREIGHTON 58, ALABAMA 57
Doug McDermott scored 16 points and Creighton (29-5) overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to beat Alabama (21-12) for its first tournament victory in 10 years.
Alabama had a chance to win during the frantic final seconds, but Josh Jones blocked Trevor Releford’s 3-point attempt from the top of the key as time expired. Releford led Alabama with 14 points.