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BUCKEYES ADVANCE TO SWEET 16 WITH WIN OVER HUSKIES, 78-55

Jim Jackson scored 23 points after missing his first nine shots as third-ranked

SoutheastRegionalOhio State overcame a 12-point deficit and beat Connecticut 78-55 Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Southeast Regional.

The Buckeyes (25-5) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. They will play No. 18 North Carolina on Friday in Lexington, Ky.

UConn (20-10) dominated the first 13 minutes, buoyed by the return of center Rod Sellers from a one-game suspension. Sellers helped the Huskies control the offensive boards, and they repeatedly got tip-ins and easy follow baskets for a 28-16 advantage with 7:20 left in the half.

But a 3-point shot by Jamaal Brown with seven minutes remaining in the half brought the pro-Ohio State crowd back into the game and started a 15-2 run that gave the Buckeyes their first lead at 31-30.

Jackson, who had gone 0-for-9 to that point, scored four of the last six points in the flurry, including the short jumper that put them ahead for good with 28 seconds left in the half.

Ohio State carried the momentum into the second half, hitting four straight long jumpers - an 18-footer and 3-pointer by Chris Jent and two 3-pointers by Jackson - that expanded the lead to 42-34.

UConn made one last run, closing within five with 11:30 to go, but Jent hit a 15-footer and a 3-pointer, and Ohio State was not threatened again. Jent scored 14 and Mark Baker had 13 for the Buckeyes.

Sellers and Donyell Marshall led UConn with 12 points each, and Sellers had 13 rebounds. Guards Scott Burrell and Chris Smith shot horribly, each going 3-for-13 from the field, after they had combined for 44 points in the Huskies' first-round win over Nebraska.

N. Carolina 64, Alabama 55

North Carolina earned its 12th straight trip to the NCAA final 16 Saturday by wearing down Alabama with its balanced offense and switching defenses for the victory.

Eric Montross muscled inside for 12 points and Hubert Davis snapped out of a one-game tournament slump with 16 points to send the 18th-ranked Tar Heels (23-9) to Lexington, Ky.

North Carolina's 12 straight final 16 appearances are one shy of UCLA's record 13 in a row from 1967-79.

No. 13 Alabama (26-9) failed to capitalize on Montross' foul problems. The 7-foot center sat out the last nine minutes of the first half with three fouls, but the Tide shot just 29 percent for the half to negate the advantage. Carolina used a variety of defenses to frustrate the Tide.

James Robinson scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half to keep Alabama close. He hit a jumper and two 3-pointers in a row to cut the lead to 57-52 with 1:39 left. But Carolina sank four free throws and got a dunk from George Lynch, who finished with 10 points, to pull away.