UNC Hangs Tough

By Josh Herwitt - November 14, 2007

Not a ton of action going on for a typical Wednesday night during the college basketball season, but North Carolina kept us on the edge of our seats for two-plus hours down in Charlotte.

After falling behind for much of the second half, the top-ranked Tar Heels survived a major scare from in-state rival Davidson to earn a 72-68 victory in its season-opener.

While Tyler Hansbrough dominated the first half with a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds), the junior forward was ineffective for much of the second half due to foul trouble.

That left the door open for sophomore wing Wayne Ellington, who took control after halftime and led the Tar Heels with 20 points.

And for anyone that might think from this game that the Tar Heels were overrated and overhyped in the preseason, that certainly isn't the case. In fact, it's pretty fair to say at this point that Davidson can hold their own against the big boys.

The Wildcats, after all, return all five starters from last year's team that won the Southern Conference with a 17-1 mark and almost upset Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Elsewhere around the nation...

Seventh-ranked Tennessee has opened up the season at 2-0 after clobbering Arkansas-Monticello, 101-44, in the first round of the StubHub Legends Classic.

The Volunteers, who moved to 17-0 in non-conference home games under Bruce Pearl, shot an impressive 60 percent from the floor as Tyler Smith led the way with 15 points and JaJuan Smith added 14.

Out in East Lansing, Mich., Chris Allen was the sparkplug for No. 12 Michigan State Wednesday night, as the freshman scored 17 points in the Spartans' 83-65 win over Louisiana-Monroe to advance to the CBE semifinals against Missouri on Monday.

Tom Izzo, however, couldn't have been completely happy with the win. After leading 47-35 at halftime, MSU managed to blow its lead and trailed, 57-56, with 13:46 remaining in the game. The Spartans luckily turned it around in a hurry, scoring the next 11 points en route to the regional final victory.

Raymond Morgan had another solid game after going off against Chicago State on Tuesday with 25 points and 15 rebounds, finishing with 13 and 14, while All-American Drew Neitzel dropped in 15 of his own.

No. 25 Butler, meanwhile, has seemed to find its way back into the AP Top 25 already, and the Bulldogs made sure to take care of business against Indiana State, securing a 76-48 rout at home.

Senior sharpshooter A.J. Graves had another impressive performance from the perimeter, knocking down 8-of-12 shots, including six three-pointers, to tally 26 points for Butler. And this one certainly felt good for Graves and company, as the Sycamores were the first team to down the Bulldogs last year and had won the previous three meetings.

Posted by Josh Herwitt at 10:05 PM on November 14, 2007

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