for this game

Lawson, Wright help UNC extend struggles for Duke

Feb 8, 2007 - 8:06 AM DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Once again, another North Carolina freshman brought the Cameron faithful to their knees.

Ty Lawson scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half, including a pair of strong drives inside the closing two minutes, as fifth-ranked North Carolina posted a 79-73 victory over rival No. 16 Duke in an Atlantic Coast League clash.

Fellow freshman Brandan Wright had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Tar Heels (21-3, 7-2 ACC), who beat the Blue Devils at home in consecutive meetings for the first time in 12 years.

"I think it was two teams that played as hard as they could play," UNC coach Roy Williams said about the physical matchup. "I'm not saying that we played as pretty as we can play, as effectively as we can play, but I do think that both teams played exceptionally hard."

"It's a game that they won and our kids didn't lose," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "(North Carolina is) very, very talented and the depth that they have means that they never take a break, so when they're playing like that you have to be incredibly resilient and I thought our guys were."

Last season, North Carolina claimed an 83-76 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium behind 27 points by then-freshman Tyler Hansbrough.

Coming off its first loss at home against Florida State on Sunday, Duke (18-6, 5-5) was the team that came out inspired, grabbing a 15-6 lead on freshman Jon Scheyer's jumper 3:48 into the contest.

The strong start was surprising, especially since team leaders Josh McRoberts and DeMarcus Nelson were replaced in the starting five by freshmen Brian Zoubek and Gerald Henderson.

"I thought that was the lineup that would get us off to the best start," Krzyzewski said. "We're going to do things to try to get guys to be freer. We're just going to keep doing things to keep getting better. That change was to make us better, and I thought we were."

The Blue Devils, who were looking to avoid losing three straight conference games for the first time since 1995-96, remained in the lead until midway through the second half when Hansbrough's baseline jumper with 9:41 left tied the score at 52-52.

The Tar Heels grabbed their first lead at 62-60 on a layup by Reyshawn Terry with 5:15 to go, and Wright's baseline jumper gave them a four-point edge less than a minute later.

Although Duke managed to close within 64-63 on a banked shot in the lane by Henderson, UNC pulled back ahead, 67-63, with 2:36 left after Hansbrough hit a jumper in the lane and Wes Miller split two free throws.

Despite having his minutes limited in the first half due to turnover issues, Lawson would not let the Blue Devils pull closer again, completing a three-point play off a tough drive for a 70-63 advantage with 1:46 remaining.

Scheyer, who finished with a season-high 26 points, answered back with his own three-point play, but Lawson worked his way back into the lane for a tough layup with three defenders around him and a 72-66 lead with 52 seconds to play.

"It's another tough one and it doesn't get any easier for us," Scheyer said. "It's a shame. We were up a lot of the game and it just comes down to our execution down the stretch and doing the right thing. We let it slip away. It's just really frustrating."

Lawson finished 6-of-12 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. Hansbrough had 16 points and Terry added 10 and 10 boards for the Tar Heels, who shot 51 percent (31-of-61) and held a 39-33 rebounding edge.

Overall, UNC shot 59 percent (16-of-27) in the second half en route to outscoring Duke, 45-34.

"Well, the first half we took bad shots," Williams said. "We did talk about at halftime that we've got to move ourselves, move the ball better, get a chance to get the ball inside where Brandan and Tyler and those guys could do something inside and hopefully get some fouls on their team.

"Again I think that's one place that our depth does help is that we can withstand some things that are more difficult for some other teams to withstand."

The depth was a real benefit when freshmen guards Lawson and Wayne Ellington struggled with the pressure of the game early. Miller was one of three veterans called upon to pick up the slack, and the senior guard finished with four points in 17 minutes while playing tough defense.

"Well, I think Ty and Wayne and Brandan had done great jobs for us but sometimes that experience on the defensive end of the floor is extremely important to you and so we went with a stretch there of Bobby (Frasor), Marcus (Ginyard), and Wes as our perimeter guys," Williams said. "The toughness of Wes, they (Duke) set three straight screens (against) him and he got over all three of the screens and was still there. I think that was huge for us."

Greg Paulus scored 15 points and McRoberts ended with six and 11 rebounds for Duke, which made just 3-of-10 free throws in the second half and finished with 16 turnovers to enable the UNC comeback.

"The 3-for-10 from the free-throw line and a couple turnovers hurt us," Krzyzewski said. "For us to win that game, you have to hit those things."