Tar Heels’ late run downs Duke

Published 11:09 am Sunday, March 9, 2008

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
DURHAM — Danny Green had 18 points and top-ranked North Carolina scored the final 10 points of its 76-68 victory over No. 6 Duke on Saturday night to give the Tar Heels the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.
Tyler Hansbrough finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds in his third straight victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Wayne Ellington also scored 16 for the Tar Heels (29-2, 14-2).
North Carolina blew an early double-figure lead and briefly trailed before closing strong, holding the Blue Devils scoreless for the final 5 1/2 minutes to claim its eighth straight victory and the top seed in the ACC tournament in Charlotte — and maybe the inside track for the No. 1 seed in the Charlotte-based East Regional.
Greg Paulus scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half for the Blue Devils (26-4, 13-3), who rallied from a 14-point first-half hole but missed its final 10 shots to fall to 15-1 at Cameron this season.
Jon Scheyer added 14 points, and his stickback with 5:44 remaining gave Duke its only lead of the second half at 68-66 — but that was the Blue Devils’ last field goal of the game.
Ellington drove the left side for a layup to tie it at 68 with 3 minutes left and start North Carolina’s game-closing 10-0 run, and on the next possession Hansbrough stuck back Green’s miss to put the Tar Heels ahead to stay.
Ty Lawson, who missed the previous meeting with a sprained left ankle, finished with 10 points for the Tar Heels, who won their first winner-take-all regular-season finale against Duke since 1985.
It was sweet revenge for Ellington and Green, who were roundly blamed for the Tar Heels’ 89-78 loss last month in Chapel Hill after they were a combined 4-for-24 shooting. With the league’s regular-season title on the line, they were significantly sharper this time, making a combined 14-of-28 attempts.
They were the key components of a first half burst by North Carolina that was perhaps one of the most dominating by an opponent at the famously rowdy arena. The Tar Heels raced out to an early 29-15 lead on the strength of Green’s hot hand — he was 6-for-8 at the break.
Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson each scored 10 for Duke, which got back in the game by opening the second half on a 17-9 run.