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Off the cuff: Regarding the Nevada game, it was good to see Wayne Ellington be a leader offensively. Early on, just as Nevada had taken a 12-10 lead and gotten the fans even more riled up, Ellington quickly got downcourt in transition and slammed in a dunk to quiet the crowd. A steal and layup later gave the Heels a five-point cushion for the first time and then the three at the halftime buzzer gave the Heels their biggest lead in the first half at 14. In the second half, among other plays, he swished a three from the corner and made a nice assist to Ty Lawson.

I traditionally watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve. I like to listen to Barry Manilow's "Just Another New Year's Eve" - I know, I know, don't say it - and then I like to dance with my wife to "Our Love is Here to Stay." I lost track of time watching the late UNC game and missed the ball drop by 10 seconds but luckily Tivo allowed me to see it almost immediately afterward. So, my routine was delayed a bit. That 10 p.m. start threw off my biorhythms to start the new year. TV rules I guess but why would TV want people watching a game at midnight on New Year's?

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Heels 84, Wolf Pack 61
Theme familiar as UNC tires opponent

No. 1 UNC was tied with Nevada at 14-14 midway through the first half after Tyler Hansbrough scored his first points of the game on free throws but a 16-5 run opened it up and the Tar Heels tired out the Wolf Pack in the second half, winning 84-61. (12/31)

The first-half run was highlighted by a Wayne Ellington steal and layup and a Bobby Frasor three-point shot but it was the emergence of the slow-starting Hansbrough that did in Nevada. Hansbrough scored 10 points in the last 11 minutes of the first half and ended with a game-high 22 points.

Ellington, who drilled a three-pointer as time expired in the first half to make give the Heels their largest lead to that point at 41-27, wound up with 15 points. Ty Lawson, who scored 11, was the only other UNC player in double figures with 11.

In the second half, UNC was able to extend the lead to 20 at 54-34 following a Wolf Pack foul and a technical foul on Nevada coach Mark Fox which resulted in four free throws.

Highlight reel plays in the second half included an Ellington steal and feed to Lawson for a layup and a Hansbrough old-fashioned three-point play where he banged it in down low and was fouled. That gave the Heels its largest lead at 67-44. The lead never reached more than 23.

"The thing about North Carolina, they just keep coming at you. They never let up," Fox said. "I just think we got a little tired. We kept competing and I was proud of our guys for that. But fatigue did set in."

The Tar Heels, now 13-0, open ACC play Sunday at home against Boston College, which is 12-2.


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