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Off the cuff: Hansbrough didn't lose a tooth against Clemson - not yet anyway. He came back on the court quickly and the reason is that he wouldn't let the dentist look at it. I understand that the tooth was knocked back in his mouth but that trainers moved it back in place and gave him a mouthguard to use.

Hansbrough does initiate a lot of contact but it appeared he was fouled many more times than was called. Luckily the Heels don't have to rely solely on him although he had another workmanlike double-double, scoring 20 and getting 10 rebounds.

I thought the Clemson game would be close, like last year's three games (two of which the Heels won in overtime and the third by just give points in the ACC tournament). But I did think if Ellington could duplicate his feat from the Miami game, the Heels could win handily and that's what happened. In fact, Ellington scored more points in this game and had an even better all-around game as he dished out a career-high seven assists.

With the Heels having won three straight ACC matchups in convincing style, it's a shame that they don't play again until Jan. 28 at Florida State. But Ellington said he thinks the short layoff will only give them a chance to have fresher legs during the heart of the ACC schedule.

Speaking of which, the Florida State and Duke games are the only 9 p.m. games left... thank goodness. The games are really too late, especially on Sunday and weekday nights. I miss the early Saturday afternoon games I grew up with. The only game before 3:30 left on the schedule is a noon start at home against Georgia Tech on Saturday, Feb. 28. Now that'll feel like the old C.D. Chesley and Sail-with-the-Pilot days.

The Tigers had only lost to undefeated Wake Forest and no doubt wanted to be the team that stopped the 53-game losing streak at Chapel Hill.

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Heels 94, Tigers 70
Same as it ever was - UNC whips Tigers

North Carolina, behind resurgent Wayne Ellington, outscored Clemson by 19 in the second half to break open a close game and whipped the Tigers 94-70 to make it 54 straight home victories against Clemson. (1/21)

Ellington, who scored a season-high 25 points, set the tone for the second half with a three to end the first half that gave the Heels their biggest lead of the half at 45-40.

In the first five minutes of the second half the Tar Heels outscored Clemson 17-3. Deon Thompson, who Coach Roy Williams said had more spring in his step, drove the baseline for a bucket to give Carolina a 62-43 lead and the rout was on.

After that, Clemson got no closer than 13 and Carolina got the lead up to 27 at 83-56 on a three-pointer by Ty Lawson, who finished with 16 points, seven assists and three steals.

Ellington, who blistered Clemson last season, got a career-high seven assists this time. A nifty assist to Thompson for a dunk excited the crowd and put Carolina up by 19 in the second half.

Clemson hung tough in the first half, leading most of the time. Down 33-29 with five minutes to go before the break, Carolina went on a 16-7 run to end the half. A driving layup by Lawson, who converted the old-fashioned three-point play after being fouled, put the Heels up 40-38 for a lead that Carolina would never relinquish.

"Our goal was to keep them from getting a lot of easy baskets in transition," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We didnt do that for much of the night."

Clemson Terrance Oglesby, who scored 22, kept the Tigers in the game in the first half by hitting five of eight shots, including four threes. However, he went cold in the second half and got more attention from UNC defenders, going just one of 11 from the floor in the second half.

Thompson had his best ACC game of the year as he scored 15 points. Tyler Hansbrough, who had a tooth loosened by an elbow, scored 20 and hauled in 10 rebounds. While Danny Green scored only seven points, he had a solid five rebounds, three steals, three assists and three blocks.

With Ellington back in stride, Lawson protecting the basketball, Thompson moving more fluidly, Green being consistent and Hansbrough being Hansbrough, the Tar Heels are playing well. That momentum will be delayed a week as Carolina doesn't play again until Wednesday, Jan. 28 at Florida State.

Carolina moves to 17-2 and 3-2 in the ACC while Clemson falls to 16-2 and 2-2 in the league.


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