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The Daily Tar Heel

Ivory Proves Himself Against UNC

North Carolina never showed similar interest, and Ivory didn't think he should go somewhere he wasn't wanted.

Ivory was there on the court at the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday, but he wasn't wearing the home white North Carolina uniform.

After the game, he wasn't wearing all of his navy blue Penn State one, either.

As the team ran to the locker room following its victory celebration, Ivory's arms were raised above the fleet-footed herd. Ivory had taken off his jersey and was holding it high above his head.

He was happy to show the world what school had put its faith in him.

Ivory scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting to help push Penn State past North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.

He hit a 3-pointer with 3:59 left to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good at

69-68. Ivory, a senior, has at least one more game to play. UNC's season is over.

"I can go home with my head held high," Ivory said. "It's a great feeling."

One that Ivory desperately needed to start the day. Ivory's mother, Carlenia, spent Saturday night at Tulane Medical Center because of a stomach ailment.

Ivory spent most of the evening worrying about his mother, and when he and Penn State coach Jerry Dunn went to visit her Sunday morning, she told her son not to worry and forced him to leave.

Ivory learned before the game that his mother was doing well and might be released later that afternoon.

With an eased mind, Ivory came out of the gates quickly against UNC, scoring Penn State's first basket. He scored seven of its last 15 points in the first half and went to the break with a game-high 12 points.

Ivory played an important role late in the game, as well. North Carolina built a four-point lead with five minutes remaining, but Joe Crispin found Ivory on the left wing for the 3-pointer that was part of a 7-0 run to help the Nittany Lions regain the lead.

"We wanted to come down, take our time and get a good shot," Ivory said. "He hit me in the right spot. I had confidence in my teammates, and they had confidence in me, and I made the shot."

He made another big one two and a half minutes later. Penn State got the ball with 3:26 remaining clinging to a 71-70 lead. The Nittany Lions retained possession for the next 1:28 and finally took a three-point lead on Tyler Smith's jumper.

Seconds later, Brandon Watkins stole the ball and Ivory got it at halfcourt. He split a double team and scored his final two points with 1:31 left to put the Nittany Lions ahead by five.

"We knew he would have a chip on his shoulder because North Carolina didn't recruit him," UNC forward Kris Lang said. "I knew he would come out and play a little extra harder. He did that."

After the game, he led his team in celebration while it stood in front of the Penn State cheering section. And when the team gathered for a television interview, Ivory dedicated the victory to his mother.

"I've been through some adverse times in the past 24 hours with my family," Ivory said at the post-game press conference. "My teammates and my coaching staff really stepped up and helped me out."

And Ivory helped eliminate the team he once dreamed of playing for.

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"He said, 'I can't go home if we lose,'" Penn State guard Jon Crispin said. "We understood that. You've got to have some bragging rights down there in North Carolina."

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