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February 12, 2008

No. 5 North Carolina edges Virginia

Box score

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Tyler Hansbrough scored 27 points, including a critical baby hook with 21 seconds to play Tuesday night, and No. 5 North Carolina once again survived a surprising challenge before holding on in a 75-74 victory over Virginia.

The Tar Heels (23-2, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), coming off a double overtime victory against Clemson on Sunday, got all they could handle from the Cavaliers, who had lost nine of 10 but played nothing like a team in a hopeless free fall.

Virginia (11-12, 1-9), trying to avoid its first 1-9 start in the league since the 1976-77 season, came up short, but not without its best showing in almost a month.

Wayne Ellington added 19 points and Deon Thompson 12 for North Carolina.

Sean Singletary scored 27 points to lead the Cavaliers, but several other players made big plays - an element that has been sorely lacking for coach Dave Leitao's team.

The Tar Heels led throughout the second half, but Virginia got within five several times, keeping the crowd very much into it, and prepared for one more Cavaliers run.

Trailing 60-55, Mamadi Diane scored in the lane for Virginia, and after a miss by the Tar Heels, Laurynas Mikalauskas scored inside for Virginia to make it 60-59.

Marcus Ginyard just beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer for the Tar Heels, and Jeff Jones scored on a drive for Virginia. Baskets by Thompson and Hansbrough made it 67-61, but Virginia came back again, getting a 3-pointer from Jones and a free throw from Singletary to make it 67-65. After four more points for North Carolina, Jamil Tucker hit a 3-pointer for Virginia, pulling them within 71-68 with 3:23 left.

The Tar Heels got only one shot in their next two possessions, and Virginia had four looks at a tie, but none of their 3-point tries went down.

When Ellington scored inside to lift the Tar Heels lead back to 73-68, Calvin Baker made a 3-pointer for Virginia, pulling them to 73-71 with 51.7 left, but the Tar Heels then turned to their All-American, and he came through on the biggest possession.

Just 21 seconds remained, and when Singletary made a 3 with 8.2 seconds to play, the Tar Heels threw the ball to the other end of the court, Ellington was fouled with 2.8 seconds to go. He missed the free throw, but time expired before anyone could gain possession, sending the Cavaliers to their seventh consecutive setback.

The Tar Heels led 38-31 at halftime after ending the period on an 8-0 run in the last 2:24. Hansbrough scored five in the burst and Ellington hit a 3-pointer.

Earlier, North Carolina scored 15 in a row to open a 20-7 lead, but Singletary had seven of his 11 first-half points in a 15-4 Virginia run that put them ahead, 29-28.

For more coverage of North Carolina, visit CarolinaBlue.com; for more on Virginia, visit CavsCorner.com.

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