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Off the cuff: This was Dick Vitale's first UNC game this year though he predicted the Heels to win it all before the season. Prior to the game he said, "I think this team is determined this year to win it all."

If you watched the Tar Heels football game against Duke earlier in the day on ESPNU and the basketball game on ESPN2, you got to watch a continuous scroll of the same scores and same information at the bottom of the screen. Do we really need to be reminded more than 200 times during the two games that Nebraska fired coach Bill Callahan? Give us the scroll every 20 minutes or something but that's ridiculous.

I'm not sure how many times the announcers mentioned that the BYU players were older and mature and married. It started sounding so much like me that I thought I was pulling for the wrong team for a while there. Plus, being a white boy myself, I could relate.

The racial makeup of the game - I know it's politically incorrect to even mention it - did bring back some old memories there for a few minutes. When Hansbrough failed to return to the floor after a TV timeout, there were five black UNC players against five white BYU players. When I was a kid in Rocky Mount, N.C., I and a few other of my white buddies would go to south Rocky Mount and play pickup games against all black players. It wasn't exactly the opposite of Texas Western vs. Kentucky but our underdog team, probably because we played together all the time, usually won. And, we didn't have to do shirts and skins.

By the way, did you know that Nebraska fired coach Bill Callahan? I thought about reminding you every three or four sentences throughout my game analysis but hopefully I've made my point.

Heels 73, Cougars 63
UNC survives loss of Lawson, BYU's in-out play

The Tar Heels had to play without its engine but managed to putter past Brigham Young 73-63 in a game closer than the final score. The win gave Carolina the Las Vegas Invitational title Saturday night. (11/24)

Ty Lawson turned an ankle in the first two minutes of the game and did not return to play. Trailing 59-58 without their starting point guard and with less than eight minutes to play, an energetic and emotional Danny Green bolstered a Tar Heel attack that outscored BYU 15-4 over the last 7:23.

While Green scored six of his 14 points during the stretch and got a couple of key rebounds and steals, it was a Wayne Ellington's three-pointer from a foot past the NBA three-point line that opened it up a bit at 67-61 with two minutes to go.

BYU, which couldn't seem to miss for much of the game, went cold over the last quarter of the game as the Tar Heels defense stiffened and perhaps the Cougars tired a bit. Trent Plaisted, the Cougars' 7-foot center, dominated inside for much of the game (scoring 24 points and grabbing an impressive 17 rebounds) while guard Jonathan Tavernari drilled half a dozen three-pointers to give BYU an inside-outside game that gave the Heels trouble.

Coach Roy Williams called it an ugly game. True, the Tar Heels didn't shoot very well for much of the game but scored when they needed it. And, the Tar Heels didn't rebound very well for much of the game (being outrebounded 43-39) but rebounded when they really needed it (especially a Green offensive rebound off a Bobby Frasor missed free throw in the last minute that led to a pair of free throws by Tyler Hansbrough to wrap up the game).

Hansbrough, the tournament MVP, scored 21 and hauled in eight rebounds. Green joined Hansbrough on the all-tournament team as did Ellington, who scored 15 and snatched six rebounds.

Carolina hopped out to an 11-6 lead but found themselves behind at 16-15 following a left-handed hook in the post by Plaisted. Midway through the first half, the Tar Heels opened it back up to 26-19 after a transition basket on the fast break by Green.

The Tar Heels worked the lead up to 10 before a swished three-pointer at the buzzer by Tavernari pulled the underdog Cougars back to within seven at 38-31. A 13-4 run to open the second half, highlighted by Plaisted's aggressiveness around the basket and another Tavernari three, put BYU back up at 44-42.

It went back and forth until midway through the second half when the Heels opened up a five-point lead only to see it erode to nothing. With eight minutes to go, BYU took their last lead at 59-58. That's when the Tar Heels went on that 15-4 run to wrap it up.

It appears that the injury to Lawson is not that serious and that he remained out as a precaution. The adversity may actually help Carolina down the road... but make no mistake, they'll need their engine

Check out this game photo gallery. Check out this box score.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on WRAL.com by clicking here.

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