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Monday, January 19, 2009

Tar Heels hit stride against Canes

Posted by on Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 1:56 AM

CHAPEL HILL -- When they rolled into the Dean Smith Center on Saturday night, the Miami Hurricanes had no opportunity to sneak up on North Carolina. The Tar Heels, facing an urgent situation after losing their first two conference games, shook off a rusty start to wear out the Canes 82-65.

Prior to the second half whipping, however, this game took on what for UNC fans was a frighteningly similar feel to the Boston College and Wake Forest defeats. The Hurricanes buried jump shots against the Tar Heels' flagging defense, and the team's body language became very negative.

As he has done so frequently throughout his career, Tyler Hansbrough kept his club in the game in the first half. Shortly before the break, a series of great defensive plays ignited the team and sent them into halftime a much more confident bunch.

The game effectively was over at that point, as the Heels broke away and never again were seriously threatened. Senior forward Danny Green continues to evolve into the club's spiritual leader, and his 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks don't do justice to his increasingly vital contributions.

But it was junior guard Wayne Ellington who highlighted the show. Ellington hit seven consecutive three-pointers en route to 23 points — all scored within a 10-minute window — and displayed the confidence missing from his jump shot for much of the season.

"It was fun to see that youngster have some success," Roy Williams said. "It's been tough on him. He's kept a wonderful attitude and he's done things to try to help out in other ways."

For his part, Hansbrough led all players with 24 points. Ty Lawson added 11 points and eight assists, while freshman Ed Davis notched seven points, eight rebounds and three blocks in just 16 minutes of action.

On Wednesday, the Tar Heels will face tough and athletic Clemson, a team that fought them ferociously in three contests last season.

To see the UNC/Miami box score, click here.

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