Virginia Falls at No. 3 North Carolina 76-61
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -Wayne Ellington scored 20 points and No. 3 North Carolina shook off a sluggish start to beat Virginia 76-61 on Saturday for its seventh straight win.
Tyler Hansbrough had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Danny Green added 17 points and Ty Lawson scored all 10 of his points during the game-breaking run while adding nine assists for the Tar Heels (21-2, 7-2).
The Atlantic Coast Conference’s hottest team overcame a slow first half by shooting 50 percent in the final 20 minutes and outscoring the Cavaliers 29-11 during a 13-minute stretch that bridged halftime.
Next up: No. 4 Duke on Wednesday night in a matchup of the ACC’s co-leaders and the latest renewal of college basketball’s fiercest rivalry.
Jeff Jones scored 19 points to lead the Cavaliers (7-12, 1-7). Freshman Sylven Landesberg scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
Yet for a while, at least, he and the Cavaliers kept things interesting. They closed within 24-23 on Jones’ goaltended layup with 3:48 before halftime.
That’s when the Tar Heels finally got rolling. Ed Davis hit a hook shot on his next trip downcourt and Ellington followed that with a 3-pointer to start the decisive push.
Lawson then took over after the break, driving hard to the basket on consecutive possessions before knocking down two 3s 90 seconds apart, the second of which put North Carolina up 53-34 with 11 minutes left. Green gave the Tar Heels their first 20-point lead with a layup just inside the 6-minute mark.
Sammy Zeglinski added 11 points for Virginia, which was denied its first victory in Chapel Hill since January 2002 and lost its 24th straight game on a top-five team’s home floor.
Yet while the Tar Heels never trailed, they perhaps were looking ahead to that meeting with the Blue Devils. They didn’t come close to putting this one away until their top three outside threats got hot.
Ellington was coming off a season-high 34-point performance against Maryland in which the Tar Heels hit a season-best 16 3-pointers. He, Green and Lawson teamed to hit 24 of 37 attempts in that rout – but they were a combined 3-for-15 at one early point against Virginia’s zone defense.
Midway through the half, North Carolina went nearly 8 minutes between field goals by anyone other than Hansbrough, who finished 4-for-11. Ellington’s 3-pointer 30 seconds into the second half gave the Tar Heels their first double-figure lead, 36-25.