for this game

Ellington, North Carolina hold off upset-minded Davidson

Nov 15, 2007 - 4:47 AM CHARLOTTE (Ticker) -- It took just one game for top-ranked North Carolina to get its first scare of the season.

Wayne Ellington scored 20 points as the Tar Heels held off game Davidson for a 72-68 victory in North Carolina's season opener on Wednesday.

Tyler Hansbrough, who was a National Player of the Year Finalist last season, added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who never led by more than seven points during the contest.

"Exhibition games are not great for us," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "We win by 56 and 52, and that doesn't challenge us, it doesn't test us - tonight did."

Davidson (1-1), the reigning Southern Conference champions, returned all five starters from its school-record 29-win team last season and was tied with North Carolina with under four minutes to play.

Williams felt that the early test was a great experience for his team.

"I told the guys in one of the huddles, 'You may not believe this right now, but I love this,'" Williams said. "This is great for us."

Trailing by three points, Andrew Lovedale's put-back cut the Wildcats' deficit to one but Ellington answered with a jumper to give the Tar Heels a 68-65 lead with 1:06 to play.

Lovedale missed a layup with just under 30 seconds to play and Ty Lawson converted two free throws to give North Carolina a five-point bulge.

"We were right there," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "A possession here and a possession there, that's how close this game was."

Sophomore Stephen Curry, who set an NCAA freshman record with 122 3-pointers last season, missed two consecutive shots from the arc as the Wildcats were unable to make it a one-possession game.

Curry led the Wildcats with 24 points, but shot 2-of-12 from the arc and just 8-of-22 overall.

"The No. 1 team in the country and we were right there with them," Curry said. "It shows that we've got better since last year. But we've still got a lot of work to do to win one of these games. We'll have more opportunities."

Davidson led by as many as seven points in the first half, but North Carolina used a 12-2 run to take a three-point lead and scored the final seven points to take a 38-31 advantage at the break.

The Wildcats scored the first eight points after intermission and held a 39-38 advantage just under three minutes into the second half.