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Off the cuff: Jones Angell did an admirable job fiilling in for Woody Durham, the voice of the Tar Heels. Woody stayed back to call the football game against Duke. It was a nice touch for Woody to man the scoreboard from the Chapel Hill studios.

Woody pointed out that while the second half was close to perfect offensively, it didn't approach the 1979 game at Virginia where Carolina shot 16 of 17 from the floor.

This was the first of six straight away games. With exams, etc., the Tar Heels go an entire month before returning to the Smith Center.

TV rules. The game was supposed to start at 11:55 but with the preceding game in Anaheim, California running late, the game didn't start until 12:05 a.m.

Lawson had seven of the Tar Heels first nine points while Johnson had 10 of the Monarchs first 14 points.

ODU held the ball at the end against UNC subs rather than allowing the Heels to go over 100 points.

Heels 99, Monarchs 82
Carolina's big three pace Tar Heels over gritty ODU

North Carolina shot 71 percent from the field as Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington led the way with 67 of the Tar Heels 99 points in a 99-82 victory over Old Dominion University in the Las Vegas Invitational Friday (11/23). The Heels, 4-0, play BYU, an upset winner over Louisville, in the finals Saturday.

The Monarchs had held opponents to only 34 percent from the field before the Heels put on a clinic. The shooting percentage was the highest for a game for the Heels since 2000.

Lawson, battling ODU's senior guard Brandon Johnson, came up with a career-high 23 points on nine of 11 shooting and made several impressive drives to the hoop. Late in the game, however, at the defensive end, Lawson fell on his butt and elbow and was removed from the game. It appears that he's ok and will just be sore.

Up just four at the break, despite shooting 68 percent, the Tar Heels turned it up a notch after Johnson picked up his third and fourth fouls before the first media timeout of the second half.

A three-pointer by Lawson launched from somewhere around Reno put the Heels up 58-48. It never got closer than eight again and the Tar Heels got its largest lead of the game (besides the final score) when Lawson pushed it upcourt quickly to an open Ellington who stroked a three-pointer from the right side to make it 83-66.

Despite some hot shooting by the Monarchs, Hansbrough kept the game under control with several baskets down low and several free throws. He ended up with a game-high 27 points.

In the first half, after an open three by Lawson, it looked as if the Tar Heels might make a South Carolina State game out of it as they led 9-4. But Old Dominion is tough and led by Johnson, who scored 14 in the first half, the Monarchs fought back to lead for much of the first half.

The hot-shooting Monarchs led 26-20 midway through the half and held a lead until Ellington drilled a 15-footer to tie it at 32-all with 5:20 to go in the half. A fast-break bucket by Marcus Ginyard and a slick pass from Ginyard to Ellington put the Heels up. But sloppy play and strong offensive board play by Old Dominion put the Monarchs up 39-38.

A couple of Hansbrough free throws and a Danny Green triple at the buzzer put the Heels up 43-39 at the break, setting up a 73 percent field goal effort in the second half. Green, who scored 11, hit all four field goal shots and both free throw attempts to tally double figures for the fourth time this year.

Coach Roy Williams told me before the season that these games, win or lose, are meant to improve the team for the conference season, which begins in January. Even though this was an impressive victory, there are areas from this game that need work before the conference schedule begins.

First, the Tar Heels gave up 15 offensive rebounds which begs the question of effort under the basket. One thing Williams will not stand for is the other team putting forth more effort. The second area is free throw shooting. The Heels went 14 of 22 for less than 64 percent. Alex Stepheson, who otherwise had a good game with six points and five rebounds, missed both free throw attempts to lower his season average to just 25 percent.

Check out this game photo gallery. Here's the game box score.
Read my Tar Heels' season preview on WRAL.com by clicking here.

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