Hogs Can’t Keep Up With UNC’s Speedy Guards
Charles Thomas, Wayne WEllington
Charles Thomas, Wayne WEllington
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Mar 23, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. — Arkansas point guard Gary Ervin was correct when he said that Sunday wouldn’t amount to a showdown between himself and North Carolina’s Ty Lawson.

It wasn’t just Lawson who hit jumpers, drove to the basket and made life tough for the Razorbacks in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Fellow North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington got involved as well.

The two sophomores came together Sunday to form a starting backcourt that proved too quick to stop, combining for 39 points and eight assists in a 108-77 rout of Arkansas in the RBC Center.

“That’s something we’ve wanted to do all season, is to push the tempo and put pressure on teams offensively,” said Ellington, who scored a game-high 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting. “Just get the ball up the court fast and knock down open shots.”

North Carolina’s backcourt had no trouble driving through the lane and exposing the holes in Arkansas’ defense. At times, Lawson and Ellington made the Razorbacks look a step slow as the guards routinely made easy layups and uncontested shots.

“I knew they would probably be laying off me or something like that because a lot of people say I can’t shoot,” said Lawson, who disproved that notion by hitting 6 of 9 shots for 19 points. “I was looking for (my shot) earlier (in the game).”

Lawson further showed that he’s recovered from the sprained left ankle that forced him to miss six games and question his explosiveness.

The sophomore sparked North Carolina’s 9-0 run to open the game by draining a 3-pointer only 65 seconds in, and he added a pull-up jumper two minutes later to get off to a fast start.

Lawson and Ellington combined to make 8 of 12 shots and score 23 points in the first half, making a statement early on that the top-ranked Tar Heels didn’t need a big performance from star forward Tyler Hansbrough to cruise past the Razorbacks.

“We play against a lot of great players in our league, so they’re no different than those guys,” Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley said of Lawson and Ellington. “Today was just their day. They made a lot of shots.”

But North Carolina’s guards did more than just make jump shots that were uncontested at times. Lawson dished out seven of the Tar Heels’ season-high 28 assists.

Perhaps more impressively, though, he and Ellington committed no turnovers despite pushing the ball upcourt at a frenetic pace. Backup guard Quentin Thomas added four assists without a turnover.

As a result, North Carolina finished with 28 assists and only seven turnovers, marking the best assist-turnover ratio of the season.

“I think we’re the toughest team in America to beat when we’re playing like this,” Ellington said, “not only our backcourt but our frontcourt.”

Wayne Ellington

Wayne Ellington pops for two of his 20 points as Gary Ervin defends and Darian Townes looks as his man.

Gary Ervin

Ervin's shot is blocked by Danny Green as Ty Lawson looks on.

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