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March 5, 2007

Hansbrough likely to play ACC Tourney in mask

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RALEIGH, N.C. - Tyler Hansbrough will probably play in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament despite breaking his nose during the blood-filled final seconds of No. 8 North Carolina's victory over 14th-ranked Duke on Sunday.

Hansbrough suffered what coach Roy Williams said Monday was a small nondisplaced fracture when Duke's Gerald Henderson flagrantly fouled him with 14.5 seconds left in the Tar Heels' 86-72 win.

Williams said Hansbrough was being fitted with a custom-made protective mask and should be ready for North Carolina's first tournament game Friday. Hansbrough leads the team and ranks among the ACC's leaders with averages of 18.8 points and eight rebounds.

The fracture was discovered after an X-ray Monday morning, Williams said during the ACC's weekly coaches' teleconference. Shortly after the game Williams said Hansbrough's nose was not broken.

"I gave some bad information because I had a bad source ... the source was Tyler," Williams said. "It's not completely broken. ... His nose did not have to be set, straightened out or anything like that."

Hansbrough was injured after pulling down the rebound of his own missed free throw and going back up for a layup. Henderson leaped to block the shot and after the ball left Hansbrough's hand, Henderson's right elbow appeared to strike the Tar Heels' center in the nose, sending him crumpling to the ground.

Blood poured down Hansbrough's face and onto his lip, his chin and the court, and he had to be restrained from the Blue Devils as he went to the locker room. Henderson was ejected and received an automatic one-game suspension for Duke's ACC tournament opener against North Carolina State.

"Gerald's intent is to try to stop him from scoring," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "His hand is open, and he's ready to go up. However, the ball never goes up there. ... If it was intentional, he would have come, probably his hand would have been closed and he would have met him head on.

"If I thought he did that intentionally, I would suspend him for longer than a game," he added.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said the league would not further discipline Henderson.

"We looked at it, discussed it, talked it over with (ACC coordinator of basketball officials) John Clougherty and others, and feel that what has been done and how it was handled by game officials is appropriate," Swofford said.

"I also think that the other players and the two coaches handled it well. Once the incident happened, one of the worst things you can have is for something like that to set off something bigger. Everybody handled themselves very well, and that's to their credit."

Williams also said that Hansbrough injured a tooth earlier in the game and will probably need a root canal after the season ends.

"I don't think there is any intentional planned thing, 'I'm going to go get the guy,"' Williams said. "I think it was an unfortunate thing that happened during the game."

For more coverage of the North Carolina Tar Heels, check out CarolinaBlue.com.

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