Monday, March 9, 2009

HEELS GRIND OUT ANOTHER WIN OVER DUKE

No. 2 NORTH CAROLINA 79, No. 7 DUKE 71 – It was Senior Day at UNC and it was another renewal of the classic rivalry. In other words, anything can happen.

Duke proved once again that when the play good defense and shoot well (60 percent in the first half), they can compete with any team. When their lack of a bench and fatigue catches up with them, they aren’t as good.

The Tar Heels overcame some ugly turnovers and poor free throw shooting to grind out a much needed win securing the ACC regular season championship and, in all likelihood, a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Ultimately, offensive efficiency, rebounding and tough second-half defense carried the day for the Heels.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 17 points in his final home and Ty Lawson added 13 points and several key plays late for the Tar Heels (27-3, 13-3 ACC), who earned the top seed for next week's league tournament in Atlanta. North Carolina shot 53 percent and led most of the second half for its sixth win in seven meetings with Duke.

Jon “Crazy Face” Scheyer was invisible most of the game, scoring 24 points for the Blue Devils (25-6, 11-5), while Kyle Singler added 23. But they never could overtake the Tar Heels once they fell behind midway through the second half.

While Hansbrough had another strong performance, it was Lawson -- who had 25 points in the first meeting -- who took control when the Tar Heels were clinging to a 70-68 lead with 3 1/2 minutes left.

First he drove into the paint and kicked out to Danny Green for a 3-pointer, then drove past Scheyer for a layup and drew the foul for a three-point play that made it 76-69 with 1:03 left.

Then, after Bobby Frasor tied up Gerald Henderson to get the ball back, Lawson hit two foul shots to make it 78-69 with 51.7 seconds left.

Hansbrough finished 5-for-11 from the field but hit two 3-pointers to go with eight rebounds in 33 minutes. He exited the game after fouling out with 13.8 seconds left, waving his arms to acknowledge the crowd before shaking hands with coach Roy Williams as he made his way back to the bench.

Wayne Ellington added 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while Deon Thompson had 14 for North Carolina. The Tar Heels also took a 37-22 edge on the boards.

The game drew its share of Tar Heel celebrities amid the rowdy capacity crowd. Michael Jordan -- the managing partner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats -- arrived with head coach Larry Brown and current players Raymond Felton and Sean May. In addition, former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards attended with his wife, Elizabeth.

(Photos by Zeke Smith/InsideCarolina.com)

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