Ellington, North Carolina sprint past Kentucky
Chapel Hill, NC (Sports Network) – Despite consensus preseason All-American
Tyler Hansbrough’s career-low seven points, Wayne Ellington posted 17 points
and seventh-ranked North Carolina used a renewed commitment to defense in a
75-63 victory over Kentucky at the Smith Center.
The Tar Heels (6-1) had allowed 80-plus points in three straight games, but
won two of the contests relying on a high-scoring offense.
With the shooting off — North Carolina shot just 37 percent from the floor —
the Tar Heels turned to a pressure defense that forced 22 turnovers and held
Kentucky to 3-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc.
“Well, we’re extremely happy with the W,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.
“It’s one of the competitive, ragged, grind-it-out, ugly, you get to put your
own adjectives that you want in there, except there not going to always be
really pretty. There always not going to be finesse, running up and down, lob,
dunk, high five people kind of game.”
Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry recorded 16 points apiece for North
Carolina, which has won three straight since a NIT semifinal loss to Gonzaga.
Randolph Morris led all scorers with 21 points, missing his only field goal
attempt in the waning seconds, and Joe Crawford added 16 for Kentucky (4-3),
which has lost three of four.
“Well certainly we thought coming into this game that we could play and do
some things that we really got better at,” Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
“But whenever you play North Carolina, or anybody, you’ve got to take care of
the basketball and execute, and I thought that was our major concern and
Following an emotional victory Wednesday night over Ohio State, the letdown
Williams feared became reality early in the second half.
All five starters drew a trip to the bench and the ire of Williams, who gave
the crew a lashing in the half’s early minutes.
The group responded.
A 9-2 burst began with a high-arcing trey from the right corner by Wes Miller
and was followed by a pair of Terry three-pointers, the second causing a
Kentucky timeout and a 47-35 UNC advantage.
The lead grew to 56-42 with 9:25 remaining when Bobby Frasor found Wright
behind the defense for an alley-oop slam.
Bobby Perry’s scoop shot off the glass brought the Wildcats within 59-50 with
4:06 on the clock, capping a brief 6-0 spurt.
Hansbrough’s first bucket of the second half, a put back off his own miss and
a Terry missed tip-in extended the edge back to double digits.
Moments later, a near Kentucky steal turned into a UNC dagger. Danny Green
corralled a loose ball, flipped it to Ty Lawson and the point guard penetrated
and found Ellington, who buried a three for a 64-52 lead.
The first half was played at Kentucky’s pace, yet the Tar Heels still held a
31-24 lead. North Carolina shot just 35 percent from the floor and Hansbrough
had just three points on 1-of-5 shooting.
The Wildcats’ 2-3 zone negated North Carolina’s desire to play at a frantic
speed. However, Kentucky had perimeter problems, turning the ball over 12
times and missing all nine of its three-point attempts.
Morris won the battle in the paint with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and the
Wildcats controlled the glass, but the Tar Heels had eight players in the
The Tar Heels have won the last three meetings…UNC is one of just two
schools to post a winning record versus Kentucky. The other is St. Louis…The
two programs are the winningest in NCAA basketball history…UNC shot 43
percent (9-of-21) from beyond the arc…Terry had nine rebounds…Morris
blocked three shots.