CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Melvin Scott admitted North Carolina did not want to play in the National Invitation Tournament, but he appears determined to make it a good experience.
Scott and freshman Rashad McCants scored 20 points apiece to lead the Tar Heels to a 90-74 victory over Wyoming in the second round of the NIT before a sellout crowd of 20,235 at the Smith Center.
Freshman Raymond Felton added 15 points and 14 assists for North Carolina (19-15), which will play Georgetown in the NIT quarterfinals.
Ironically, North Carolina coach Matt Doherty was a starting forward for the Tar Heels when Michael Jordan hit the winning 16-foot jumper in a 63-62 victory over Georgetown in the 1982 national championship game.
The NIT is not considered a good enough consolation prize for a tradition-rich program such as North Carolina, but Doherty is trying to sell his players on the goal of "hanging a banner" at the Smith Center,
Even Scott told the Chapel Hill News "no one really wanted to play in the NIT, but the more we get to play, the better off we'll be next year."
Felton echoes those words after the game.
"We are disappointed we didn't make the NCAA," Felton said. "But we're going to try to make the best of this. We're in it, so we might as well try to win it."
After a lackluster first-round win over DePaul last week, North Carolina came out with an energetic attitude on Monday and built a 47-30 halftime lead, shooting 54.5 percent from the field.
The Tar Heels increased the lead to 59-37 on a layup by Scott with 16:35 left, but Wyoming (21-11) fought back with a 21-2 run. David Rottinghaus capped it with a 3-pointer, pulling the Cowboys within 61-58 with 9:22 left.
"I thought it was tough for us to be up 17 going into the half and to fight human nature with a young team to have to maintain that against a good team for 40 minutes is difficult," Doherty said. "Give them credit for coming within three, but I felt our kids were always in control. I don't think they ever lost their poise."
In a span of less than a minute, Jawad Williams hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, Felton had a steal and a layup and fed fellow freshman David Noel for a dunk for North Carolina.
After Donta Richardson made a pair of free throws for Wyoming with 7:48 left, Scott hit a pair of 3-pointers and a layup in a span of 38 seconds, increasing the Tar Heels' lead to 76-60 with 6:40 remaining.
Wyoming pulled no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
Richardson led the Cowboys with 20 points and Uche Nsonwu-Amadi added 17.
"You could tell that they had done their homework on us," Wyoming coach Steve McClain said. "I like their team. It's a young team. There are some guys out there who are going to be doing good things here for a long time."
North Carolina shot 52 percent for the game, including 12-of-26 from 3-point range. Williams and Noel each finished with 13 points.
The Tar Heels raced to a 26-14 lead in the first nine minutes as Felton hit a pair of 3-pointers and a layup and fed Williams for a dunk and McCants for a layup.
After Wyoming pulled within 28-20 on a layup by Rottinghaus with 6:52 left, the Tar Heels went on a 17-2 run as McCants and Scott combined for 10 points. A layup by McCants capped the spurt, giving North Carolina its biggest lead at 45-22 with 2:17 remaining in the half.