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Off the cuff: Say what you will about Dick Vitale but I like the way he promotes the history of college basketball and UNC in particular.

With about eight minutes to go Ellington hit a step back jumper that prompted announcer Jones Angell to say that it was NBA quality. Analyst Eric Montross quickly told him, "Don't say that too loudly." Ain't that the truth. Let's focus on the Heels and the here and now. And let's not assume everybody rather play in the NBA than at UNC.

For the third time this year, Woody used the term "air ball." If you read my last Off the Cuff, you know how I feel about that.

TV continues to miss part of the game while showing the stands, the coaches or a replay. ESPN missed a foul on a inbounds pass and missed an Ellington bucket off an inbounds pass.

Speaking of TV coverage, were you getting the feeling that they were showing the coaches a llittle too much? The camera focused on Williams 13 separate times in the first half and Gillespee 16 separate times. That means that for every 41 seconds of game, we got to look at the coach. I remember the days when the camera showed the coach when he was introduced, when he argued a call and when he shook hands at the end of the game ... and that was it. Show us the game.

Heels 86, Wildcats 77
Early second half spurt gives UNC the edge

Carolina, up by just five, broke it open with an early second half 15-4 run and coasted to its seventh victory of the season and fourth straight against Kentucky, 86-77 in Lexington.

Wayne Ellington started the run with a sweet jumper but back-to-back three pointers by Bobby Frasor highlighted the run. A Frasor steal and a swift pass to Ellington for two ended the run to give the Tar Heels a 16-point lead, the largest at that time.

Ellington scored 18 and Tyler Hansbrough registered his three straight double-double as he scored 14 and grabbed 11 rebounds. But it was Danny Green who led the way with a career-high 20 points on eight-of-11 shooting including 12 points in the first half.

Most of Hansbrough's points came at the foul line (10) as it appeared the Wildcats were hell-bent on fouling him hard rather than allowing baskets.

The Wildcats came out aggressive and physical but, while the Tar Heels didn't shoot well, the plan didn't really work as UNC sank 12-12 free throws, a vast improvement over the last game's effort, and Carolina took a 37-32 halftime advantage despite shooting only 32 percent from the field. The Tar Heels' defense was equally as tough but didn't commit fouls as the Wildcats failed to shoot a free throw in the first half.

Following the second-half spurt, the Tar Heels eventually worked the lead up to 20 points at 67-47 on an Ellington medium-range jumper.

While the shooting improved in the second half, part of the difference was having Ty Lawson back in the lineup. Lawson, who started after sitting out the last game with a rolled ankle, was able to set the uptempo pace the Heels crave and penetrate the lane dishing to other players for baskets or drawn fouls. Lawson scored 10 points and had six assists in 24 minutes of play.

The game got sloppy in the final couple of minutes as the Heels seemed to coast to the finish line and Kentucky fought hard, sinking a couple of late three pointers to make the final score respectable.

For Kentucky, Joe Crawford scored 21 points while Ramel Bradley and freshman sensation Patrick Patterson added 19 each. The Wildcats fell to 4-2 on the season. The Tar Heels' 7-0 start is the best for a Carolina team since the 1998-99 team.

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

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