Saturday, March 22, 2008

NEWS FLASH: TY LAWSON IS OK

Conventional wisdom says control the pace against UNC. If you can stick with them on the boards and slow them down, you can beat them. Upstart Mount St. Mary’s said, the hell with that -- let’s run. A scant 113 points later it’s safe to say, Arkansas, the Tar Heels next opponent, won’t make the same mistake.

Behind a clearly healthy, and full-speed-ahead, Ty Lawson who scored 21 points and four assists in just 18 minutes, the top-seeded Tar Heels cruised by Mount St. Mary's 113-74 in the first round of the East Regional, a game that quickly turned into a crowd-pleasing romp for the thousands of blue-clad fans who filled an arena just a short drive from the Chapel Hill campus.

Wayne Ellington added 16 points for the Tar Heels (33-2), who have won 12 straight and continued their near-perfect run in NCAA games played in their home state. North Carolina improved to 22-1 in those games and advanced to Sunday's second round to face the Arkansas-Indiana winner.

North Carolina's 113 points were tied for second in school history for an NCAA game, trailing only a 123-point showing in a second-round win against Loyola Marymount in 1988. It was the first time the Tar Heels had hit triple digits in an NCAA game in 15 years.

The Tar Heels also tied their national title-winning group from 2005 for the second-most victories in school history. They're one win shy of tying the single-season record set by the 1993 team that won Dean Smith's second NCAA championship and the '98 team that reached the Final Four in San Antonio.

Of course, many players figure none of that matters if they don't get back there this year.

"Everybody wants to make a statement, but it means nothing," junior Danny Green said. "It's one game, because the next game, you never know. You could lose or it could be a one- or two-point game. The whole key is to survive and move on."

Playing a team that figured it had nothing to lose by trying to run with them, the Tar Heels scored the first seven points and never looked back. They led 60-41 at halftime, cracked the 100-point mark with more than 4 1/2 minutes remaining and finished with 29 fast-break points as they seemingly spent most of the game in transition.

North Carolina shot 61 percent and took a 48-22 rebounding advantage, including 18-9 on the offensive glass to finish with 26 second-chance points against the undersized Mountaineers (19-15).

Marcus Ginyard missed a dunk, and the play of the game involved two Tar Heels you’ve probably never heard of – Marc Campbell and Surry Wood. Campbell, a 5-11 sophomore tossed a perfect ally-oop to senior Surry who slammed it down. Every Carolina player played and scored (except Campbell), including junior Jack Wooten who was 2-2 for 5 points. Wooten hadn’t scored all year before last night. Campbell finished with three assists.

"It seemed like they had an extra person around," Mountaineers forward Sam Atupem said. "It's like they had six people to our five rebounding."

ABOVE: Ty Lawson #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels greets a player from the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers before the start of the game during the first round of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional . (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CENTER and RIGHT: Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots over Sam Atupem #40 of the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers during the first round of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional. Ol' Roy coaches 'em up.

(Photos by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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