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Off the cuff: This was a solid but uninspired performance by the Heels. It was good enough but the intensity will have to pick up in order for the Tar Heels to win the tournament.

I mentioned in the game story that Hansbrough put in a workmanlike performance but then again, when doesn't he? It's just amazing that he was the leading scorer. Had I not been keeping stats, I would have thought Ellington was the top scorer.

A recent column by an African-American sports writer named Mike Freeman lamented all the attention Hansbrough is getting and attributed it to his being white. He asked when was the last time a black player was the face of basketball. Huh? How about every year? In fact, of the 140 first-team All-America players since 1980, 114 of them are black. If a white columnist had minimized the achievements of coaches Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy when they got their teams to the Super Bowl (whether they even mentioned race or not), all hell would have broken loose. Cable talk shows would have been screaming about it. Leftist groups would have been calling for the columnist's job. There would be marches on Washington. Not only is there a double standard but it's sad that for some people with a chip on their shoulder everything comes down to race. Anyone who watches Hansbrough game in and game out, can see that he hustles and aggressively goes to the basket nonstop from start to finish and that is rather amazing and, dare I say, rather unique. Columnists should give the guy his due - even if he isn't their preferred color.

Heels 82, Seminoles 70
Ellington shots, drives lead UNC to ACC tourney win

With the score tied at 20-all, UNC went on a 15-8 run to close out the half and used timely shooting and drives to the basket by Wayne Ellington in the second half to advance in the first round of the ACC tournament with an 82-70 win over Florida State. (3/14)

Coach Roy Williams said the Tar Heels settled for the outside shot too much in the first half and got back to the basics of getting the ball inside or kicking it back outside. Carolina got an added bonus by Ellington's drives to the basket for buckets.

While the Tar Heels may have relied too much on outside shooting in the first half, it was some hot shooting late in the half that gave the Heels a cushion. With the score tied at 20, Marcus Ginyard swished a three pointer from the top of the key.

Moments later Will Graves drained a three and even Tyler Hansbrough scored on a two-point jumper during the 15-8 run that left Carolina with 35-28 halftime lead.

Florida State cut the lead to five early in the second half but after Quentin Thomas drove to the basket for two to give the Heels their first double-digit lead, the Seminoles never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Coach Williams said that there was a six or seven-minute period of the second half where the Heels played tough defense. It was needed as the Seminoles finished the game hitting 10 of 21 three pointers that kept them within striking distance.

Following a three by Ralph Mims to cut the lead to eight at 64-56, the Heels reeled off six straight points - a lay in by Ty Lawson, a tip in by Ellington and a short baseline jumper by Thomas - to make it 70-56 with five minutes to play.

The largest lead of the game came with less than a minute to play when Ginyard sank a three at the end of the shot clock to make it 82-67.

Ellington, who scored 19 points, said that the Heels played lackadaisical in the first half but were much more aggressive on offense and defense in the second half. Ironically, the Heels actually outscored the Seminoles by seven in the first half and only five in the second half.

Hansbrough had a workmanlike 22 points to lead Carolina. Ginyard added 10.

The Tar Heels, winners of their last nine games, move to 30-2 and play the winner of Miami and Virginia Tech on Saturday. Jason Rich scored 23 points to lead the Seminoles who fall to 19-14 and are likely headed for the NIT.

Check out the game box score and a game photo gallery.
Take a look at other game articles.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on WRAL.com by clicking here.

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