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Lawson, North Carolina remain perfect, blow out Nevada

Dec 28, 2007 - 4:14 AM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Ty Lawson and North Carolina caught Nevada in a lull and that was all they needed to put the Wolfpack away.

Lawson scored six of his 16 points during a first half-ending surge as top-ranked Tar Heels went on to post a 106-70 rout of Nevada on Thursday.

Tyler Hansbrough had 26 points and eight rebounds and Wayne Ellington scored 23 to tie a career high for North Carolina (12-0), which continued its best start since beginning 17-0 in 1997-98.

Despite facing its first ranked foe of the season, the Wolfpack (7-5) were able to hang with the nation's top team early, holding a 16-13 lead after a 3-pointer by Lyndale Burleson with nearly five minutes expired.

Nevada continued to exchange shots with North Carolina despite falling behind by as many as 10 points. Down 34-24 with under seven minutes to play, the Wolfpack threw together a 9-2 run to close within 36-33 on a short jumper by freshman Armon Johnson with 3:51 to go before intermission.

The contest remained close until the final three minutes, as Nevada committed five turnovers to help North Carolina run away with the game.

Ellington, who did not start after travel issues in Philadelphia prevented the sophomore from returning from Christmas break on time, hit a 3-pointer and converted two free throws to make it 41-33 with 2:55 remaining.

"Wayne played really well coming off the bench," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He really concentrated and did what he's supposed to do."

Lawson extended the cushion to 43-35 with a jumper with 48 seconds to go before grabbing a steal and racing down the court for a layup and a 12-point lead.

In the waning seconds, Lawson collected the rebound off a blocked shot before scoring a layup in transition that beat the halftime buzzer, capping a 13-2 spurt for a 49-35 advantage at the break.

The Wolfpack were demoralized by the Tar Heels' quick strike and continued to reel in the second half. Hansbrough had a basket inside and Ellington added five points, including a 3-pointer, as UNC scored the opening 11 points after the break, pulling ahead, 60-35, with just over 17 minutes to play.

"It was the last minute of the first half and the first two minutes of the second half and they were able to really separate," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "You have to have a little more poise in those situations."

Finishing 5-of-8 from the arc, Ellington added another 3-pointer for a 92-58 bulge with 4:23 remaining.

Although they went over 100 points for their second straight game, the Tar Heels endured a setback with 9:47 remaining when backup guard Bobby Frasor collapsed to the floor clutching his right knee.

The junior's knee buckled on him after grabbing a steal and attempting to make his way up the court, tearing his ACL. Frasor will require surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

Williams spoke very fondly of the hard-working guard after the diagnosis was announced.

"You sort of lose the thrill (of the win) when you see a kid like Bobby Frasor, who's a little gym rat, who does everything in the world to make himself the best player he can possibly be and thinks about the team first every time," he said.

"I hate to see somebody who has really made himself into a much better athlete than he was when he got here, has taken whatever has been given to him and he's tried to do the best with it."

Overall, UNC has scored 100 or more points in five games this season.

Lawson ended up with a career-high 10 assists and five steals and Deon Thompson scored 12 points for the Tar Heels, who shot 53.5 percent (38-of-71) and held a 45-33 advantage in rebounding.

Making his first start in place of Ellington, Danny Green had seven points and five rebounds for UNC, which went 9-of-18 on 3-pointers and collected 12 steals.

Johnson finished with a season-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting for Nevada, which had a five-game winning streak snapped.

"We were having a tough time running our offense because of their defensive pressure," Fox said. "So, we went to some situations that called for Armon and he was able to finish some plays and had a nice scoring night."

Leading scorer Marcelus Kemp was able to reach his average with 19 points for the Wolfpack, but shot just 7-of-21 from the field, including 1-of-6 on 3-pointers.

JaVale McGee added 14 points and seven rebounds for Nevada, which has lost all three meetings with UNC.