Tar Heels top Duke, 79-71
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Tyler Hansbrough walked off the court after his final home game at North Carolina, celebrating another Atlantic Coast Conference championship and another win against the Tar Heels' fiercest rival.
And once again, Ty Lawson had a lot to do with that.
Hansbrough scored 17 points and Lawson nearly had a triple-double to help the No. 2 Tar Heels beat No. 7 Duke, 79-71, yesterday, winning the league's regular-season title and earning the top seed in this week's ACC tournament.
Lawson finished with 13 points and several key plays late despite playing with a toe injury for the Tar Heels (27-3, 13-3 ACC), who have won 13 of 14 since a surprising 0-2 start in league play. North Carolina shot 53 percent and led most of the second half for its sixth win in seven meetings with Duke (25-6, 11-5).
Once it was over, Hansbrough got emotional as he addressed the crowd during the Senior Day postgame festivities and thanked his teammates for "the best four years of my life." It was the send-off he had hoped for when he put off the NBA to return for one more run at a national championship.
"It's a hard game to play," Hansbrough said. "You're thinking about everything. You're thinking about your after-game speech. You're thinking, 'Oh man, this is my last game in the Dean Dome,' and you start to think your college career is coming to an end. Then you're still trying to focus on the game and get the win."
Fortunately, Hansbrough had plenty of help from Lawson, the speedy junior who finished with eight rebounds and nine assists in 36 minutes despite playing with a jammed right big toe that he injured in Friday's practice. Lawson needed a shot for pain before the game, but still looked almost unguardable down the stretch.
"It's just tough for me to move on it or pivot off it right now," said Lawson, who had an icebag wrapped around his foot afterward. "It felt numb. I felt like I was running on four toes. I was able to do everything I could, but now I'm coming down off it and it's real painful right now."
North Carolina 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.
Jon Scheyer scored 24 points to lead the Blue Devils, and Kyle Singler added 23. Duke fell to the No. 3 seed in the ACC tournament after Wake Forest's win against Clemson later yesterday.
No. 8 Michigan St. 62, No. 19 Purdue 51: Kalin Lucas scored 21 points to help host Michigan State (25-5, 15-3) win its fifth straight game heading into the Big Ten tournament. The Spartans already had clinched the outright conference title. JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore each scored 12 points for Purdue (22-9, 11-7).
No. 10 Wake Forest 96, No. 18 Clemson 88: James Johnson scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to help host Wake Forest (24-5, 11-5) beat Clemson (23-7, 9-7) and earn the No. 2 seed for the ACC tournament. Johnson hit his first eight shots and finished 10 for 14 from the field, while the Demon Deacons shot 60 percent overall.
No. 14 Gonzaga 94, Santa Clara 59: Austin Daye scored a career-high 28 points, Micah Downs hit four 3-pointers, and Gonzaga (25-5) rolled into another West Coast Conference tournament final, beating Santa Clara (16-17) at Las Vegas. Downs scored 18 points and Jeremy Pargo had 16 for the top-seeded Zags, whose 17-1 run late in the first half opened a 22-point lead.
No. 24 Florida State 63, Virginia Tech 53: Toney Douglas scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, helping give host Florida State (23-8, 10-6) a victory over Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9) and a first-round bye in the ACC tournament. A.D. Vassallo scored 14 points to lead Virginia Tech.
Northern Iowa 60, Illinois St. 57: Ali Farokhmanesh scored eight of Northern Iowa's 12 points in overtime, helping the top seed beat Illinois State in the MVC championship game at St. Louis. Kwadzo Ahelegbe added 17 points, hitting the go-ahead free throws with 16 seconds left in OT for Northern Iowa (23-10), which earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Osiris Eldridge scored 21 points for Illinois State (24-9).