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After fans greeted him with a loud roar that drowned out his name during starting lineups, the junior looked rusty and hesitant early on. At one point in the first half, he came out of the game after feeling a pop in his toe, took off his shoe and was in obvious discomfort while a trainer looked at him on the bench.
But he got better as the game wore on, helping the Tar Heels rally from a five-point deficit midway through the second half. He finished with 21 of his 23 points after the break, including a pair of driving baskets during the decisive 11-0 second-half run that looked like the same ol' Lawson.
"I don't think he's going to be 100 percent," Williams said. "But we'll take whatever we can get, especially if it's like that performance Saturday. That's about as good as I've had a point guard play in 21 years as a head coach. I even told him that I was thinking of calling him 'Rambo' instead of 'Dennis the Menace.'"
Lawson said the performance gave him confidence, joking that it proved the toe "wouldn't fall off" as he tried to play at his normal fleet-footed pace. He's also hoping it will answer all the questions about the injury.
"It's just one toe," he said. "I don't think it's that big of a deal. But to everybody else, I guess it is. I'm just trying to get it better. I'm ready for it to be over."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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