Monday, March 09, 2009
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No. 2 Tar Heels beat No. 7 Blue Devils 79-71

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[March 09, 2009]  CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Tyler Hansbrough got the send-off he wanted in his final home game at North Carolina, thanks in part to Ty Lawson.

Hansbrough scored 17 points in his final home game to help the No. 2 Tar Heels beat No. 7 Duke 79-71 Sunday and win the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

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 Scheyer scored 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, falling short in their bid to clinch at least a share of the league's regular-season crown for the first time since 2006.

North Carolina, which beat Duke 101-87 in Cameron Indoor Stadium last month, swept the Blue Devils for only the second time in the past 13 years. The Tar Heels also won the ACC outright for the third time in five seasons.


It was a familiar scenario for North Carolina, which beat the Blue Devils by eight to clinch the league crown in last year's regular-season finale.

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.

Lawson also had eight rebounds and nine assists in 36 minutes despite playing with a sore toe he injured in Friday's practice.

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.

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Duke led 39-38 at halftime behind 15 points from Singler, who repeatedly found himself open on the perimeter as the Blue Devils penetrated and kicked out for open looks. But they didn't fare much better defensively than the Tar Heels, with both teams shooting 56 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second half, however, only the Tar Heels were able to continue that kind of efficiency. The Blue Devils shot just 32 percent in the second half, though much of that came as they missed plenty of open looks that they knocked down in earlier in the game. That was particularly true for Singler, who shot just 2-for-10 after halftime.

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.

[Associated Press; By AARON BEARD]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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