The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday February 28th

Toe injury delays Lawson's NCAA play

North Carolina's Ty Lawson is used to being in control.

As the lead guard in coach Roy Williams' high-octane attack" the ball rarely leaves Lawson's hands when he's on the court.

So it's no surprise that Lawson felt out of sorts when his still-injured toe forced him into spectator status during UNC's first-round win against Radford.

""I was real stressed" Lawson said after the game. In the beginning when they came back and it was like 13-11 I'm like yelling out there ‘Come on guys" pick it up!'

""Because it's do-or-die right now. It was tough sitting out the beginning of this game.""

Against the overmatched Highlanders" UNC was able to survive with its ACC Player of the Year permanently on the bench.

But starting Saturday against the No. 8 LSU Tigers the Tar Heels know their title chances are better with Lawson out on the court.

While the Tar Heels put up 101 points and shot 45.2 percent from the field they did not always resemble the same squad that led the ACC in offensive efficiency this season.

The fast-break wasn't run with the same cutthroat precision and UNC's half court attack at times lacked direction.

Instead of the ball firing around the perimeter with its normal zip" players found themselves lobbing the ball back toward the middle of the court.

""Well" when Ty's out there he can get the ball. He's at the basket he's blowing by nine other guys on the court and getting his layup" said senior Bobby Frasor, who started for UNC in Lawson's place.

I was" unfortunately not born with that breakaway speed. So I try to use my head I guess" as best I can.""

Frasor did perform well as a starter. And North Carolina did score — often in bunches — but many of those baskets came from players making one-on-one moves or on put-backs. Of UNC's 21 made-baskets in the opening period" only seven came from an assist.

That number improved in the second half to 17 assists on 38 baskets but still speaks for UNC's need for a Lawson return.

That return should come Saturday Lawson said.

The junior guard said that his injured toe felt about 80 percent healthy after the game" and that he expects to go through all of today's practice.

""I'm doing a lot better" Lawson said. I'm running on it sliding on it. I'm pivoting off of it a little better" it's more a confidence thing right now. …

""I'm real confident. There should be no reason why I shouldn't play Saturday.""

That would be good news for North Carolina and would provide needed depth to what has now become a shallow position on UNC's roster.

With Lawson out"" the Tar Heels have only Frasor and Larry Drew II as proven ball-handlers.

""I was very disturbed with Larry in the first half for getting a third foul on really a silly" silly play. Because we've got Larry and Bobby and that's it Williams said.

I have no idea about Ty. That's just the best answer I can give you guys. If we practice (today) if he's able to practice and do some things in practice I'll probably play him. But if he's like he was (Wednesday)" then I'm not going to play him.""

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