The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday February 28th

M. Basketball: UNC routs in championship game

Senior Tyler Hansbrough celebrates with his teammates after winning the NCAA championship game against MSU at Detroit?s Ford Field.
Buy Photos Senior Tyler Hansbrough celebrates with his teammates after winning the NCAA championship game against MSU at Detroit?s Ford Field.

APRIL 6 DETROIT — It started when they decided to come back.

Four players declining the riches of the NBA motivated to make one more run at history. One more run at a national title.

And everything that happened this season — the expectations the No. 1 rankings the blowout wins — pointed toward this one moment.

Suddenly that moment became reality.

Senior Mike Copeland wildly flung the ball into the air. Players jumped up and down amid a blizzard of confetti. Tyler Hansbrough hugged coach Roy Williams as explosions rang throughout Ford Field.

In a truly dominant display the North Carolina Tar Heels asserted themselves atop the college basketball world as national champions by defeating Big Ten regular season champion Michigan State" 89-72.

The win gives UNC its fifth NCAA title and second in five seasons.

""The first one was unbelievably sweet in 2005" and in some ways this is even sweeter" Williams said after the game. I'm so proud of this team. …

""My hat's off to … the guys in the locker room" because they took Roy Williams on one fantastic ride" and it's something that I'll never forget.""

Right out of the gate"" the Tar Heels (34-4) let MSU know that the Spartans wouldn't dictate the game's tempo as it did in past wins against Louisville and UConn.

Wayne Ellington's hot shooting and Ty Lawson's defensive pressure made certain that the Spartans' demise came early.

Ellington connected on his first three attempts from the field and finished 7-for-12 for 19 points. Ellington's 19 points earned him the honor of Most Outstanding Player.

""The game came to me"" Ellington said. I just saw a pretty big basket in the first half.""

Lawson was equally disruptive on the defensive end. He collected seven steals in the first period and harassed MSU guard Kalin Lucas to the point that there was little hope for the Spartans offensively.

The duo was a Tar Heel one-two punch that KO'd Michigan State well before the halftime buzzer.

Within 10 minutes" North Carolina's lead swelled to 34-11. The 21-point halftime lead was the largest in title game history and UNC's 55 points in the first half were the most ever by a team in the title game.

The Tar Heels returned to Chapel Hill to an adoring fan base and plenty of accolades but soon enough talk turned to next season.

More specifically to whether UNC's dynamic duo of Ellington and Lawson would stick around for one more year.

Sure enough three weeks later both players announced they would enter the NBA Draft and forgo their senior years at UNC.

With the departure of Ellington and Lawson" UNC loses six scholarship players from the 2008-09 team and its top four scorers.

""It was a tough decision" Ellington said. I loved my time here at Carolina. I had a lot of fun" and there's no better way to end it than the way we did.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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