North Carolina guard straps on 'Jetpack'
ST. LOUIS (AP)
Before Stilman White was thrust into the North Carolina lineup, the baby-faced freshman had off-the-court bragging rights over his more well-known teammates.
When it comes to Super Jetpack, he's the acknowledged king of the hill.
Fingers flying at the team breakfast on Saturday, White was so intent on topping his personal best on the IPhone game that he failed to hear teammate Kendall Marshall going from table to table asking ''Toast, toast, anybody's toast?''
''Twenty-one people in there looked at Stilman, and Stilman says, `Oh, that's my toast,''' coach Roy Williams said.
Williams jokingly referred to the game as ''Space Jam'' and said ''I know more about Kansas than I do Super Jetpack, I can guarantee you that.''
The younger generation is more in the know. Though Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock said they've never tried it, John Henson was playing the game just before the North Carolina interview session began, and said the game was recommended to him by reserve James Michael McAdoo.
''I think that it's a pretty good game,'' Henson said. ''Stilman's probably a little better than me, but I'm just getting on it.''
White knows he's better.
''I'll take credit for finding the game,'' he said. ''So pretty sure I'm the best player.''
That off-center behavior doesn't surprise Williams, who describes White as a ''weird dude.''
''There's some kids' minds that I would like to get into and figure out what they think. That's one mind that I'm going stay away from,'' Willliams said. ''And I say that in a caring way. I mean, he's a neat kid.''
White was a little used reserve, reaching double digits in minutes played only once, before stepping up big as the replacement point guard for the injured Marshall. Though the Tar Heels had a season-worst 24 turnovers in their overtime victory over Ohio on Friday night, White's ball-handling was flawless with six assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes.
The Ohio game is a career milestone for a player North Carolina will be counting on again in the final Sunday against Kansas. White leaves for a two-year Mormon mission after this season, but now he's an integral piece.
''I definitely didn't expect it coming into the tournament, but things happen and next thing you know, you're up here,'' White said. ''So it's kind of weird, but you know, it's pretty exciting.''
Brandon Craft, an Army member, was at Fort Lewis, Wash., on Saturday morning waiting to be deployed to Afghanistan.
''I talked to him this morning and we had the going-away talk,'' Aaron said after Ohio State beat Syracuse 77-70 in Boston on Saturday night. ''He just told me to enjoy it. He wishes he could watch and be here but he's doing something more important and it just keeps everything in perspective.''
Aaron's numbers for the game were hardly impressive - five points and four assists. But he orchestrated nearly every play, passing sharply and making sure the ball kept moving.
''He didn't bother us. He had one steal,'' Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ''But he's a very smart player. He really gets the ball to people.''
Craft committed his fifth foul with 49 seconds left, and Brandon Triche hit both shots to cut the lead to 68-64. Shannon Scott, who hadn't played in the game, replaced Craft.
''We had great confidence in Shannon,'' Craft said. ''I harass him every day in practice.''
OFFICIAL EXPLANATION: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says he didn't get an explanation for being hit with a rare technical in Syracuse's 77-70 loss to Ohio State in the East regional final on Saturday night.
John Higgins, the chief of the officiating crew, provided one after the game.
The foul ''was assessed for being out of the coach's box and gesturing about a call,'' Higgins told pool reporter John Feinstein.
Higgins also said that official Tom O'Neill said, ''That was the third or fourth time and I said, `Enough.'''
The technical, Boeheim said, was his ''first one in about three years, I think.''
The foul was called with 6:28 left in the first half. William Buford made one of the two free throws, giving the Buckeyes a 24-23 lead.
Syracuse was in foul trouble for much of the second half and was whistled for 29 fouls compared with 20 against Ohio State.
How much did all the fouls hurt the flow of the game?
''No comment,'' Boeheim said.
MIDDLE (SHOT) BLOCKER: Jeff Withey grew up playing volleyball on the beach near his Southern California home, and the Kansas center credits that experience for his shot-blocking prowess.
The suction of the sand when he would go up for a spike helped build the leg muscles to get his 7-foot frame off the floor. He also learned to time his jump, and the quick pace of the game allowed Withey to hone his reflexes.
''I grew up on Mission Beach in San Diego. I played volleyball almost before basketball,'' Withey said. ''When I got to high school I decided to stick with basketball.''
It wound up being a good career move.
The junior forward blocked 10 shots - one shy of the NCAA tournament record held by Shaquille O'Neal - in the Jayhawks' 60-57 win over North Carolina State in the Midwest Regional semifinals. Withey's 126 blocks this season eclipsed by one the school record set by Cole Aldrich in 2010.
''I think it was Jeff's first practice with us like, three years ago, maybe. Three or four years ago. And I tried to dunk on him,'' Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor said. ''He blocked the ball and me, too, and I fell down and busted my lip. And I don't think I tried again after that.''
Even bruising forward Thomas Robinson, solidly built at 6-foot-8 and a national player of the year candidate, knows better than to go up against Withey in practice.
''What he's doing this year is definitely not unexpected to me,'' Robinson said. ''It might look easy, but dunking on him is not that easy. You might catch him once, but that's about it.''
Spokesman Chris Yandle said Baylor asked to again wear its bright neon green uniforms in the game but was told it did not provide sufficient contrast to Kentucky's white uniform.
Instead, the Bears will wear black uniforms with neon green trim, black socks and shoes, and green shoelaces.
Designed by Adidas, the green in Baylor's uniform it debuted in the postseason is called ''electricity.''
Cincinnati and Louisville also are wearing ''adizero'' uniforms.
WIN WIN: Kansas and North Carolina will be meeting for only the 10th time in the Midwest Regional final. Though that's plenty for Roy Williams, who has emotional attachments to his stint with the Jayhawks, Bill Self wouldn't mind matching up with another national power on a more regular basis.
Self guessed Williams might have reservations, but believes both schools would only gain from playing each other. He noted that Kentucky and North Carolina have faced off.
The Tar Heels and Jayhawks will meet for the fifth time in the NCAA tournament Sunday, with each school winning twice. This is the first that won't be in a Final Four.
North Carolina leads the series 6-3 overall.
''The hardest games to play are sometimes where the other team you're playing has extra incentive for whatever reason, and you don't have that extra incentive,'' Self said. ''I understand why we don't, if we don't. But I certainly think that it would be a great series.''
AP Sports Writers Dave Skretta, Charles Odum and Howard Ulman contributed to this report.