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November 28, 2007

Top-ranked Tar Heels win at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wayne Ellington and Deon Thompson led a second-half surge and No. 1 North Carolina held Ohio State without a field goal for almost 11 minutes in a 66-55 victory Wednesday night.

Ellington, averaging 17 points per game, scored 23 and Thompson had 14, most at critical times for the Tar Heels (6-0). Tyler Hansbrough was just 6-of-19 from the field and had 13 points and 11 rebounds in one of the premier matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Freshman Jon Diebler came out of a shooting slump to score 19 points for Ohio State (4-2), which had won six of its last seven games against No. 1 teams. Jamar Butler added 17 points and David Lighty had 10.

North Carolina was without starting point guard Ty Lawson. He was dressed but did not go through warmups and wore a high plastic brace on his injured right ankle.

Maybe it was his absence, or maybe it was Ohio State's sticky zone but it took the Tar Heels a long time to solve the cloying, trapping defense.

They finally found some seams midway through the second half.

After seven ties and six lead changes, the Tar Heels broke free from a 39-39 tie on a fast-break three-point play by Marcus Ginyard.

At the other end, the Buckeyes had trouble hitting a shot, and North Carolina took advantage.

Ahead 42-40, they stretched the lead on Thompson's dunk after picking up a loose ball, and then Ellington, a thorn in Ohio State's side all night, drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead to seven. After another Buckeyes miss from the field - their ninth in a row - Thompson's follow made it 49-40 with under 12 minutes remaining.

The Buckeyes missed 17 straight shots, harkening back to their troubles in the finals of the NIT Season Tip-Off two weeks ago when they hit just one of 18 shots to start the second half of a lopsided defeat to No. 9 Texas A&M.

Down as many as 12 points with 6 1/2 minutes left, Ohio State finally started finding the range from the field. An 8-0 run built on 3s by Lighty and Diebler cut the deficit to 57-51.

Then with 3:27 left and the lead still at six, Ellington tossed in a 3-point dagger from the left wing. The Buckeyes never got close again.

For more coverage of North Carolina, visit CarolinaBlue.com. For more coverage of Ohio State, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.



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