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2016 NCAA Tournament: North Carolina holds off Providence in Second Round

The top seed in the East Region will advance to the Sweet 16.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina knocked off Providence 85-66 Friday night, in a game that was much more competitive than the final score indicates.

Providence came out of the gates matching the number one seed punch for punch, as both teams set the tone early with their transition play. Kris Dunn scored 10 quick points, but was sidelined for most of the half after picking up two unnecessary fouls. In Dunn's absence, Ben Bentil and Kyron Cartwright picked up the slack and kept their team in the game, as the pair had nine and seven points in the half, respectively.

After leading by only two points at halftime, North Carolina began to assert their interior presence in the second period. Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks terrorized their undersized opponents, as the Heels took advantage of this great mismatch. Johnson finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds, good for his 21st double-double of the season.

The Friars hung around for most of the second half, and had brought the margin back to 5 points following a Ben Bentil mid range jumper. After stopping Carolina on the next possession, Providence gave up a backbreaking offensive rebound and put back to Marcus Paige. From that point on, it was all UNC.

Providence's comeback hopes were put to rest for good when Bentil picked up his 4th and 5th personal fouls in less than a minute. Not only did Providence need Bentil's scoring to keep up with Carolina, but his size was the only chance Providence had of stopping the UNC front court.

The Friars add to the madness on Saturday, and with their season ending, so too likely has the college career of Kris Dunn. The two time Big East Player of the Year finished with a "quiet" 29 points in Round 2, but his efforts were simply not enough to carry his underdog Providence team past this uber-talented North Carolina squad.