for this game

Hansbrough, North Carolina survive tough test from Virginia

Feb 13, 2008 - 5:59 AM CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (Ticker) -- Close for Virginia was just not good enough against North Carolina.

Tyler Hansbrough scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the fifth-ranked Tar Heels fought off a handful of tight moments for a 75-74 victory over the lowly Cavaliers in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday.

Wayne Ellington chipped in 19 points for North Carolina (23-2, 8-2 ACC), which beat Virginia on the road for just the second time in eight meetings since 2000.

The Tar Heels once again played without starting point guard Ty Lawson, who missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.

North Carolina has struggled without its top playmaker, losing to Duke last Wednesday and needing overtime to top Clemson on Sunday. That less-than dominant play continued against Virginia, especially with Marcus Ginyard also bothered by an ankle injury.

"It's tough for us," Hansbrough said. "We didn't know if Marcus was going to play. It just showed some toughness for us. A lot of guys stepped up and I hope we will keep on playing this way whenever we get Marcus 100 percent and Ty back."

Despite shooting 52.5 percent (31-of-59) for the contest, the Tar Heels had just a 58-55 lead after Sean Singletary hit a jumper for the Cavaliers with 9:49 remaining.

Virginia, which entered the matchup with six straight losses, got within a point at 60-59 on a layup by Laurynas Mikalauskas with 7:11 left but could not find the way to come up with that big play.

"I think it shows that we can play with any team in the country, no matter who they are," Singletary said. "We just have to do it on a more consistent basis and get over that hump, like I have been saying."

Ginyard came back with a 3-pointer for North Carolina, Deon Thompson hit a jumper and Hansbrough added one to make it 67-61 with 5:08 remaining.

Attempting 30 3-pointers in the contest, the Cavaliers got back within 71-68 on a shot from the arc by Jamil Tucker with 3:23 left. Although Ellington missed a 3-pointer on the other end, Virginia could not put the ball in the basket on its next possession despite two offensive rebounds.

Singletary also had a steal as the Tar Heels attempted to race down the court in transition, but the senior could not hit the ensuing 3-point attempt with 2:11 to play.

Ellington's layup with 1:38 to go gave North Carolina a 73-68 edge but Calvin Baker came back with a 3-pointer.

Hansbrough then proved his worth as one of the conference's top players, hitting a tough jump hook from the right baseline for a 75-71 edge with 23 seconds to play.

"Well, we like to think that it is a jump hook, but it is not," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Shot put, jump hook, 'Hansbrough Special,' whatever you want to call it, but our goal was to come down and spread and try and use clock and try and go in to him inside. We went to him inside and, needless to say, he delivered for us and made a big basket."

Although Singletary managed to cut that lead to one with a long-range shot with 15 seconds left, Virginia could not foul right away and then could not come up with the rebound when Ellington missed the front end of a 1-and-1, allowing the clock to run out.

"It just came down to the final stretch at the end, and we didn't have enough to get that foul at the end," Singletary said. "We wish we had had more time on the clock. That was a long 2.9 seconds, but we just couldn't get our hands on the ball. We tried hard, but it was another loss."

Thompson scored 12 points and six rebounds and Danny Green added nine and five for North Carolina, which finished with a 43-36 advantage on the boards.

Singletary finished with 27 points and seven assists for the Cavaliers (11-12, 1-9), who dropped below .500 for the first time this season.

"You have to give Virginia credit," Williams said. "To be 1-8 and to have us come in here and do the things they did. I thought that they were much more aggressive than we were, but I was really pleased with the contributions we got from a lot of guys."

Baker scored 10 points and Mamadi Diane added nine and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, who dropped to 0-4 in games decided by two points or less.

"I just said to the guys, 'Competitive sports are a cruel, cruel game.' You win or you lose," Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. "Winners are revered, and losers go home. I believe that effort is a given. Getting excited about effort is like saying, 'I want my team to play hard.' That's what they're here for; that's what we're here for. So it's hard for me to take any consolation in playing hard."