Thursday, January 29, 2009

No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA: LOW-DEF


No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA 80, FLORIDA STATE 77

Ty Lawson couldn’t stop FSU star guard Toney Douglas, just as he couldn’t stop Tyrese Rice and Jeff Teague in the Heels two previous ACC losses, but he could drain a buzzer beater to top off a roller coaster 80-77 win over the Seminoles last night. Lawson scored 21 points, and he didn’t press and force the issue when the man he was guarding exploded for 32 points.

Lawson was supposed to take a timeout on the final play. Instead, he hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to save a game for the still struggling Tar Heels. Oddly enough, the play was set up by two defensive stops that found Tyler Hansbrough (and his four fouls) in a mismatch with the Noles’ red hot star Douglas. Hansbrough survived both encounters shutting down Douglas once and giving him back to Lawson on a switch on the other that ended with an FSU shot clock violation.

Lawson then took the inbounds pass with 3.2 seconds left and raced downcourt, swishing a running three-pointer from the top of the arc. "I was supposed to go to halfcourt and get a timeout, but that wasn't open. So Coach told me, if that didn't happen, get the ball and just run with it," Lawson said outside a jubilant North Carolina (18-2, 4-2 ACC) locker room.

The Heels’ Danny Green added 20 points and Wayne Ellington 14, making up for Hansbrough's quiet game. Last season's national player of the year scored only eight points falling short of double figures for the first time in 56 games.

The Tar Heels won despite shooting 38.1 percent and committing a season-high 21 turnovers. Once again, they fell behind early and then seized control of the game in the final five minutes of the first half with an 18-3 run. But this time, FSU adjusted their defense to slow Carolina’s half-court offense, and Douglas did the rest.

"How lucky we were," coach Roy Williams said. "That's the bottom line."

(Photos by Phil Sears/Tallahassee Democrat and AP Photo/Phil Coale)

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