Nov. 24, 2004
By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
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 11th-ranked Tar Heels' 106-92 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night.
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 job he did on Iowa's Jeff Horner that set the tone for the Tar Heels.
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 after hurting it late in the semifinals, just wouldn't let Horner get the ball where he wanted it.
Horner took just four shots in the first half, hitting 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.
Adam Haluska had 19 points and Horner added 18 for Iowa, which beat No. 12 Louisville and No. 15 Texas to reach the championship game.
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 he 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 to play.
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 73-51.
It was the second Maui Invitational title for North Carolina coach 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.
North Carolina's players Raymond Felton, left, Sean May, center, and Rashad McCants celebrate on the bench late in the first half.