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Off the cuff: After Carolina lost to Gonzaga 82-74 two years ago, the guy that played Hansbrough, Josh Heytvelt, said Hansbrough was rather passive. What? Was that guy on drugs? As a matter of fact, he was. A couple of months later he was busted for hallucinogenic mushrooms. Heytvelt did outplay Hansbrough in that game as he scored 19 points compared to just nine for Hansbrough. But that comment helped inspire Hansbrough this time around. Hansbrough scored 24 compared to Heytvelt's 14. But the real difference came on the boards as Hansbrough had 10 rebounds and the 6-foot-11 Heytvelt, get this, had none - zero.

The only real negative in this game was the free throw shooting as the Heels were just 15 of 27 from the line. Deon Thompson and Ed Davis were each just one of four.

Lawson had another big game as he hit seven of nine field goals and dished out nine assists. Green, who did take a few suspect shots and make a few suspect passes, nonetheless had seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots. Hansbrough scored 20 or more points for the 78th time in his career.

Carolina has now won more NCAA tourney games than any school in history, passing Kentucky, which happened to fire its coach on the same day.

The Heels now play Oklahoma for the right to go to the Final Four. One of Carolina's shining NCAA tournament moments came against the Sooners in 1990 when an underdog UNC team upset top-ranked Oklahoma on a last-second short bank shot by Rick Fox, which sent the Heels to the Sweet 16.

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NCAA Tourney: Heels 98, Zags 77
Carolina zigs when Gonzaga zags

Gonzaga had no answer for North Carolina's big three - Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington - who combined for 62 points as the Tar Heels advance to the NCAA Elite Eight with a 98-77 victory. (3/28)

Those three were key members of the UNC team that lost to Gonzaga in the preseason National Invitational Tournament two years ago. "It does feel good to win the game but I also remember the game in New York when we got our tails beat pretty bad," Hansbrough said. "At practice I thought about that game and how they outplayed us and it feels goods (to beat them)."

Lawson, despite the injured toe that limited him to 27 minutes, set the tone early, banging in a pair of threes in the first four minutes to help UNC to a 17-9 lead. Carolina got the lead to double figures at 29-18 midway through the half when he converted a three-point play after double pumping to swish a baseline jumper.

Carolina, which got the lead up to 17 in the opening half, went almost five minutes without a field goal at the end of the first half but Hansbrough scored at the buzzer to give the Heels a 53-42 halftime advantage.

That momentum carried over in the second half as Carolina went on a 13-2 run in the first five minutes of the second half, working the margin up to 21 at 66-45. A Danny Green three in transition, followed by a Lawson-to-Ellington fastbreak layup highlighted the run.

But then UNC coach Roy Williams said the Tar Heels shot the ball too quickly and got careless with the ball. As a result, Gonzaga went on a 12-2 run to get the lead back down to 11 at 68-57 with 12 minutes left.

An angry Williams called a timeout and gave the Heels a tongue-lashing. "Taking bad shots is the same as a turnover," he said. Senior Bobby Frasor came out of the emotional huddle and sank two three-point shots in less than 30 seconds to stymie the Gonzaga run and put the Heels back up by 17. Two more old-fashioned three-point plays by Ellington and Hansbrough capped a 12-0 run and upped the margin to 23 at 80-57.

The lead, which never got closer than 19, got up to 28 at 96-68 with four minutes to go.

The Tar Heels, now 31-4, shot well from the field (53 percent) and shot the best they have all season from behind the arc (11 of 19). Lawson, who scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, hit three threes as did Green, who finished with 13 points. Ellington, who had a pair of threes, finished with 19 points.

Hansbrough, however, scored 24 points and hauled in 10 rebounds to lead the Heels.

Gonzaga, led by guard Jeremy Pargo's 16 points, finishes the season at 28-6. Carolina takes on Oklahoma and all-America Blake Griffin at 5:05 p.m. Sunday.


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