Bloody Hansbrough Leads UNC Past Duke

Monday, March 5th 2007, 6:38 am
By: News On 6

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) _ Nothing like an airborne elbow and a bloody nose to inject even more energy into one of college basketball's most intense rivalries. The always-ferocious Duke-North Carolina series found a new poster boy _ Tyler Hansbrough, who left this game against the Blue Devils with 26 points, 17 rebounds and one bloodied face.

The eighth-ranked Tar Heels beat No. 14 Duke 86-72 on Sunday, but clearly the lasting memory of the game is that of the bloodstained star nicknamed ``Psycho T'' because of his relentless intensity.

``It's not like a prize fight where you ask what the other guy looked like,'' North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. ``He looked pretty bad.''

In other Top 25 games, it was: No. 5 Florida 85, Kentucky 72; Creighton 67, No. 11 Southern Illinois 61; No. 16 Louisville 86, Seton Hall 71; and Clemson 75, No. 21 Virginia Tech 74.

The victory helped North Carolina (25-6, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) clinch the No. 1 seed in the league tournament, and gave the Tar Heels their first regular-season sweep of the Blue Devils in 11 years.

But most of the postgame chatter centered on Hansbrough's injury _ which looked worse than it was.

Hansbrough leaped for a layup with 14.5 seconds left, and after the ball left his hand, he was struck in the face by Gerald Henderson's right elbow.

``He got our guys in the air, and I came down on him,'' Henderson said. ``It's unfortunate that it turned out like it did, but I wasn't trying to hurt the kid or anything. It just turned worse than it was.''

Hansbrough crumpled to the ground, blood pouring from his nose onto the court and down his face, before he jumped menacingly to his feet. Walk-on guard Dewey Burke helped restrain Hansbrough from Duke's players, and he was taken to the locker room.

The officials reviewed the play and ejected Henderson, then later said in a joint statement that under NCAA rules he would be suspended for one game.

After the game, Hansbrough had cotton in his nose while he watched his teammates cut down the Dean Smith Center nets. Williams said team doctors told him the center's nose was not broken, and though Hansbrough didn't speak to reporters after the game, point guard Bobby Frasor said Hansbrough calmed down and laughed about his near-confrontation.

``He said, 'Did you see me get up?''' Frasor said.

Reyshawn Terry added 15 points in his final home game for the Tar Heels, who avoided their first three-game slide under Williams and gave the homespun coach his 100th victory at his alma mater.

Greg Paulus led Duke (22-9, 8-8) with 21 points before fouling out, and Henderson finished with 16.

Ty Lawson scored 12 points and Brandan Wright finished with 10 for the Tar Heels, who took control early with a hot start before a fired-up Senior Day crowd, dodged Duke's second-half rally and pulled away late for their fourth win in their last five meetings with the Blue Devils.

North Carolina led comfortably for most of the way before Duke made things interesting midway through the second half, closing to 50-48 on Paulus' baseline jumper with 12:50 left.

The Blue Devils then forced Frasor to miss and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Marcus Ginyard intercepted Paulus' pass to the interior.

Ginyard then started the fast break, and it led to a three-point play by Hansbrough. That play started the game-clinching 18-4 run, capped by Hansbrough's free throw that made it 68-52 with 5:14 left.

That led to a win which, coupled with Virginia Tech's loss to Clemson, gave North Carolina the top seed and a first-round bye in the ACC tournament that begins Thursday in Tampa, Fla. Had the Tar Heels lost, they would have been the No. 5 seed and would have had to win four games in four days to claim their first league tournament crown since 1998.

The Blue Devils fell to the seventh seed with the loss and Georgia Tech's win over Boston College, meaning they will begin tournament play Thursday against 10th-seeded North Carolina State.

Some of the luster had dimmed on the fierce rivalry after a spate of uncharacteristic losses by both teams. Before this season, only four times since the 1975-76 season had both teams entered the game after a loss _ but that happened twice this year.

No. 5 Florida 85, Kentucky 72

Joakim Noah and Taurean Green scored 17 points apiece and Florida rebounded from consecutive losses to become the first Southeastern Conference team to win six in a row against Kentucky.

The Gators (26-5, 13-3) finished the season 18-0 at home.

Noah had 10 rebounds and Green was 6-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

Bobby Perry led Kentucky (20-10, 9-7) with 20 points, but 16 of them came in the first half.

Creighton 67, No. 11 Southern Illinois 61

At St. Louis, Anthony Tolliver had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Creighton upset the Salukis to earn their seventh NCAA tournament appearance in nine years.

Nate Funk added 19 points and four assists and Nick Porter had 15 points and six assists for the second-seeded Bluejays (22-10), who won the conference tournament for the sixth time in nine seasons.

Jamaal Tatum had 21 points for Southern Illinois (27-6), which has won the regular-season title five times in the last six seasons but has won only one tournament title during that span.

No. 16 Louisville 86, Seton Hall 71

Edgar Sosa scored 18 points to lead five Louisville players in double figures and the Cardinals clinched second-place in the Big East.

Terrence Williams and David Padgett scored 15 points apiece, Derrick Caracter added 13 and Jerry Smith had 10 points for Louisville (22-8, 12-4), which won its sixth straight.

Brian Laing scored a career-high 29 points for visiting Seton Hall (13-16, 4-12).

Clemson 75, No. 21 Virginia Tech 74

K.C. Rivers scored 22 points, including the decisive basket with 18 seconds remaining, and the Tigers prevented the Hokies from capturing a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference's regular-season title.

Cliff Hammonds added 17 points for visiting Clemson (21-9, 7-9) in the ACC regular-season finale for both teams.

Zabian Dowdell led Virginia Tech (20-10, 10-6) with 25 points. Jamon Gordon added 14 points.