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February 11, 2009

Lawson helps seniors complete sweep at Cameron

DURHAM, N.C. - Before tipoff, the public-address announcer at Cameron Indoor Stadium introduced North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough as "Taylor" Hansbrough.

But Hansbrough and the rest of the UNC senior class had the last laugh, notching a 101-87 win against sixth-ranked Duke to complete a four-year sweep in this building.

"It's a big accomplishment," Hansbrough said. "I think this is one of the toughest places to play in college basketball. Not many people are able to do this."

If the Carolina seniors had the last laugh, then it was junior point guard Ty Lawson who had the last words for the No. 3 Tar Heels (22-2, 8-2 in the ACC).

And they weren't exactly suitable for print.

After enduring chants of "DUI" - a reference to Lawson's offseason legal incident - all night, Lawson turned to the Duke student section and shouted "F--- you!" once the final horn had sounded.

"It was just some trash talking," said Lawson, who led the Tar Heels with a season-high 25 points, the most he has ever scored in an ACC game.

Lawson said one fan in particular got under his skin "talking about (Greg) Paulus is killing me - just ridiculous stuff."

It was Lawson who killed the Duke point guard and anyone else the Blue Devils (20-4, 7-3) threw at him.

With the Tar Heels' up three points, Lawson scored on back-to-back driving lay-ups to spark a 14-0 UNC run that put them up 17 with less than four minutes remaining.

"I feel like every time we play against Duke, no one can stop me in the lane," Lawson said.

The run included a Hansbrough 3-pointer with the shot-clock winding down, which was reminiscent of a long ball he hit here his freshman year, but there was no question it was Lawson who was driving the Carolina attack.

"He's strong and he's strong with the ball," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Even when you're trying to corral him, he keeps the ball so low. He's strong-willed, and he's really good with the ball. He played a great game tonight. It was almost impossible for us to defend him. He's a great weapon."

UNC coach Roy Williams said he made it a point in the second half to create space in the middle of the floor for Lawson to beat the Duke defenders.

Lawson was patient in waiting for his spots, but aggressive once he found them.

"Somebody might say that's an oxymoron, but it's true," Williams said.

All five Tar Heels scored in double figures as UNC hit the 100-point mark in regulation for just the third time in the history of this series and the first time in 26 years at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

And the Heels did it against the top scoring defense in the ACC.

Carolina played a little defense of its own, too, after allowing the Blue Devils to shoot nearly 62 percent in the first half.

The second-half result - a 36-percent shooting mark for Duke - was far more pleasing for Williams.

"The first half they just took it right to us," Williams said. "They outplayed us that last 10 minutes of the first half."

During that first-half stretch, the Blue Devils turned a 10-point Carolina advantage around by scoring 14 straight points and cruised into the half confident, not to mention up 52-44.

The Tar Heels didn't panic at being down at the break, instead chipping away at the Duke lead over the opening minutes of the second before taking the lead back on a pair of Lawson free throws near the 12-minute mark.

"We needed a run, and he just kind of took over the game," Danny Green said. "With his speed, he's really hard to stop."

A good chunk of Carolina's early offense came from some sources that had been slumping. Deon Thompson scored 10 of the Heels' first 25 points, while Bobby Frasor hit three 3-pointers to notch a season-high nine points.

It was only appropriate that all the healthy seniors - Hansbrough, Frasor, Green and Mike Copeland - played a role in finishing off the four-year Cameron sweep.

"A lot of teams lose here," Green said. "It's hard to beat a team four times in a row on their home court. But we come out with just as much motivation as they do."



 

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