No. 1 North Carolina Hangs On To Defeat Davidson, 72-68

Wayne Ellington scores 20 points to help Tar Heels avoid major scare


Nov. 14, 2007

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Top-ranked North Carolina avoided an early season upset.

Just barely.

Wayne Ellington scored 20 points and made key plays late to help the Tar Heels avoid a major scare and a subpar second half from Tyler Hansbrough to beat Davidson 72-68 on Wednesday night.

Trailing for much of the second half, North Carolina (1-0) closed the game strong. Ellington's free throw with 3:44 left put the Tar Heels ahead to stay. His jumper with just over a minute left made it a three-point game. Ty Lawson then hit three of four free throws in the final 30 seconds to preserve the win.

Hansbrough had 14 points and 14 rebounds, but he was ineffective in the second half and got into foul trouble.

Stephen Curry scored 24 points for Davidson (1-1), which nearly became the latest small school to knock off a major school.

With Mercer beating Southern California and Gardner-Webb stunning Kentucky so far, Davidson was bidding to join the early season surprises. The Wildcats returned all five starters from last season's team that won a school-record 29 games before losing to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

They had a tough time stopping Hansbrough early.

Hansbrough, the leading vote getter on The Associated Press' preseason All-America team, dominated the first half with 12 points and 11 rebounds to help North Carolina rally from an early seven-point deficit to take a 38-31 lead.

But Hansbrough and the Tar Heels went cold to start the second half. Hansbrough also lost his cool to help Davidson's comeback.

Hansbrough was called for a foul on Andrew Lovedale while fighting for position on the perimeter with 17:07 left. The two starting jawing and then Hansbrough gave him a slight shove. Referee Mike Wood immediately called a technical foul on Hansbrough, and Davidson turned it into four consecutive points to take a 39-38 lead.

Hansbrough went more than 7 minutes without scoring to start the second half and Davidson built a 50-46 lead on Will Archambault's 3-pointer with just under 10 minutes left.

The Tar Heels, who missed 12 of their first 14 shots to start the second half, started going inside with Ellington getting key hoops with Hansbrough on the bench with four fouls.

Danny Green added 11 points for North Carolina, which overcame 19 turnovers to avoid an embarrassing start to a season that began with national title hopes.

Curry, the son of former NBA 3-point specialist Dell Curry, was only 8-for-22 from the field and 2-for-12 from 3-point range. Jason Richards added 12 points and eight assists, but Davidson hit just 4-of-22 3-point attempts and was outrebounded 40-33.

It was the start of an ambitious schedule for Davidson, which also plays No. 2 UCLA, No. 13 Duke and No. 21 North Carolina State.

While it was a Davidson home game, the crowd was predominantly pro-Tar Heels. North Carolina agreed to the game to get players acclimated to Charlotte Bobcats Arena, which will host the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and the NCAA East Regional.

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