UNC's Tournament Scores
Virginia Tech - 76
UNC - 79
Florida State - 73
UNC - 70
ATLANTA — A No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament? Sure. But a third straight ACC Tournament championship? Not in the script.
A close semifinal game between top-ranked North Carolina and No. 22 Florida State came down to late-game execution Saturday. Behind Toney Douglas the Seminoles executed; without Ty Lawson the Tar Heels didn't.
UNC was eliminated in the semis while Duke went on to defeat FSU on Sunday in the Georgia Dome and take the ACC Tournament crown.
Lawson sat out both UNC's 79-76 quarterfinal win against Virginia Tech and its 73-70 loss to FSU a day later with an injured right big toe. His speed and his tendency to take over a game in the final minutes were sorely missed.
UNC hardly got out in transition" and it lacked a go-to guy when it needed a bucket.
""It's hard to take out a guy who's MVP of the whole league"" Roy Williams said after the Tar Heels' elimination.
In Lawson's absence, other Tar Heels were forced to step up. None did so more than last year's Player of the Year.
Tyler Hansbrough scored a career ACC Tournament-high 28 points Friday and came up big in the closing minutes against Virginia Tech, scoring UNC's final six points.
He swished his ninth and 10th free throws of the day and made two key defensive plays in the final minute to seal the win.
All those free throws that he hit and getting to the free throw line" it was clutch" forward Deon Thompson said after Friday's game. He definitely carried us those last few minutes.""
And Hansbrough didn't stop to catch his breath"" dropping 22 the next day against Florida State.
""He's so consistent" Bobby Frasor said Friday. It's like having filet every day" I guess. It kind of gets old.""
In Lawson's absence" Frasor started at point guard and he and Larry Drew II logged significant minutes there. Though neither was a threat to score they both took care of the ball committing a combined four turnovers in two games.
Wayne Ellington also stepped up totaling 40 points for the weekend and keeping UNC in the game with some big 3-pointers on Saturday.
But the second half of UNC's usual sharpshooting duo couldn't buy a bucket all weekend. Danny Green shot just 12 percent including a 1-for-12 mark from behind the arc in the two games.
UNC's woes in defending talented perimeter players also continued. Douglas torched the Tar Heel guards Saturday and he seemed to get better as the clock wound down.
Douglas who finished as the runner-up to Lawson in ACC Player of the Year voting" dropped 27 points and hit the go-ahead free throws for the Seminoles.
""He's a tough player" Lawson said of Douglas as he soaked his foot in ice after Saturday's game. Every time they needed a big shot" he knocked it down.""
With the loss" North Carolina will have some time to get healthy. The swelling in Lawson's toe has gone down" and he said he will ""definitely"" be playing when the NCAA Tournament starts Thursday.
Though they said they never like to lose"" the Tar Heels didn't have a whole lot more to prove in the ACC Tournament. Their resume was good enough without the title to merit one of the top four overall seeds in the 65-team field announced Sunday.
But they know they'll have much less room for error this week.
""There's no tomorrow now" Williams said. The next time you feel this way at the end of a game" you're done.""
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