MAUI (Ticker) -- Rashad McCants showed Tennessee why he was the leading scorer in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season and is a potential NBA lottery pick.
McCants scored 19 of his 27 points in the first half as No. 12 North Carolina rolled to a 94-81 victory over Tennessee in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.
McCants, a junior, averaged 20 points per game last season and was the top vote getter on the All-ACC Team last season. He has scored in double figures in 64 of his 69 games.
North Carolina (3-1) will meet Iowa in the finals Wednesday.
With the Tar Heels leading, 18-15, with 11:47 remaining until halftime, McCants started a 33-16 run to end the half with a 3-pointer. He scored 13 points during the run and finished the half 7-of-10 from the floor. Jawad Williams chipped in 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting as the Tar Heels shot 17-of-26 to build a 51-31 advantage.
"It was a great win for us," McCants said. "It's about chemistry, maturity for us. We have a chance tomorrow to do something we haven't done before (win a tournament). That would be great for us."
In the second half, when Tennessee got to within 82-69 with just under five minutes left, McCants drilled a 3-pointer and another jumper to push the margin back to 18.
North Carolina, which has focused on playing better defense this season, limited the Volunteers (1-2) to 43.5 percent (27-of-62) and forced 21 turnovers with pressure defense that led to 31 points.
"We always talk about offense," McCants said. "But to be a great team we need to play defense. I have tried to focus more on that; pressure, ball pressure, intensity."
McCants shot 10-of-16 from the floor, hit three 3-pointers and added seven rebounds. Williams finished 8-for-10. Melvin Scott chipped in 12 points and Sean May added nine and 13 rebounds for North Carolina, which shot just under 59 percent (30-of-51).
Chris Lofton scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting for Tennessee, which knocked off Stanford, 69-57, in the first round. Scooter McFadgon, who scored 21 in the opener, added 16.