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The Daily Tar Heel

Improved Thompson aiding UNC defense

Thompson dunk vs. Clemson
Deon Thompson has improved offensively and defensively in recent games" and his play against Clemson?s Trevor Booker was key to the UNC victory.

It probably wasn't the thunderous dunk that Deon Thompson had intended when Ty Lawson found him early in the second half on the break.

But even though it clanged off the front rim bounced again on the side rim and then kissed off the backboard it still counted as two points.

And even though it took a while to get going" Thompson came out on top in the battle against Clemson's physical forward Trevor Booker.

""It's good to have a little more spring in Deon's step — there's no question about that"" UNC coach Roy Williams said after Wednesday's game.

Many ACC forwards have been victimized by 40 minutes of banging down low with Booker. But Thompson, who has faced criticism for a lack of physicality in the past, gave it right back.

He held Booker, who averages 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, to seven points and four boards Wednesday.

When Deon comes into the mix and starts getting in there banging a little bit" getting physical playing some good defense against Booker it doesn't surprise me that we won the way we did" senior Danny Green said.

A well-deserved break

North Carolina came away from the romp against Clemson with an infusion of momentum. Their reward? A full week off from games.

The Tar Heels viewed the time off more as a chance to rest than a momentum killer, though.

I think it'll be good for us"" said Wayne Ellington, whose shooting stroke has been heating up of late.

We'll be able to get some fresh legs" but we'll still be in the gym" working hard.""

Williams gave the players off Thursday"" and today marks the start of two days of ""run and shoot"" practices.

On Sunday" the Tar Heels will work out as part of a Special Olympics clinic before beginning intensive preparation for Wednesday's Florida State game on Monday and Tuesday.

A long road ahead

Even coming off such a convincing win against one of the ACC's best UNC was reminded of just how tough and unpredictable the conference can be as unranked Virginia Tech upended No. 1 Wake Forest that same day.

In the locker room after the game" Williams and the players emphasized the strength of the conference and the need to show up every game.

""I think our conference is a fantastic conference" Williams said. Every night you've got to be able to play" regardless of who you're playing and regardless of where you're playing. And I don't think we get as much credit as we should.

""Our league doesn't take a back seat to anybody.""

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