UNC too much for LSU

The LSU men's basketball team's run to Detroit ended Saturday at the hands of North Carolina. The Tar Heels topped the Tigers 84-70, highlighted by a 23-point performance from Ty Lawson.

Tar Heel guard Ty Lawson had not gone in live action since jamming his toe in practice two days prior to the season finale against Duke. Of course, the nation's most touted point guard made sure that he was dressed and ready to dance on Saturday as top-seeded UNC hosted No. 8 seed LSU in Greensboro, N.C.

Lawson scored 23 points on the night, sparked primarily in the second half as the junior knocked down shot after shot for the Tar Heels.

"Yeah, you know, Ty's a great point guard," said LSU guard Garrett Temple. "He's real quick and explosive. He's shooting a great percentage from the three-point line this year. So you have to respect his quickness, but at the same time he had two big threes, so we tried to get up in him and he was able to penetrate.

"So kind of the way he finishes, he finishes the best I've ever seen a point guard finish at his height. So he played a big part in that win, but we had a great season. I've had a great five years here. I was lucky enough to spend four of them with Taz, two of them with Marcus, and one with Coach Johnson."

Wayne Ellington also notched 23 points for UNC, and the junior helped light the flame on an 11-point second half run, which helped put the Tigers in a hole from which they never crawled out of.

"Well, I thought defensively they got their hands on a lot of balls and more transition opportunities down the stretch," said LSU head coach Trent Johnson. "But coming into the game we knew that the tempo in which they play and as deep as they are and as talented as they are that we're going to have to do a really, really good job of being selective on the half court once we got opportunities to make plays."

The Tigers kept it close for much of the time, and Johnson's crew continued to reel in the Tar Heels despite their scoring bursts throughout the game.

"We played great especially at the beginning of the second half," Johnson said. "You know, I think their depth just started getting to us toward the middle of the second half when they started trading baskets. We weren't able to knock some shots down, and they kept knocking shots down.

"North Carolina's a really good basketball team. But these guys fought all year long. They played together as a team. They came into this year and embodied and receptive to everything we asked them to do. They have nothing to hang their head about."

Despite the loss, Johnson wished that much more would have come from the night.

"I just wish I could have found some ways to help them a little more to be successful tonight, but we just couldn't get anything done," he said. "But you've got to, again, give them credit. They're good. They were at an excellent venue, and just didn't work out for us."

Marcus Thornton scored 25 points, a majority of which came in the second half, as the Tigers gave the home state team all that they could handle on the afternoon. The senior hit on 10-of-22 shooting with six rebounds and one assist.

The Tigers came out of the gates on the heels of UNC, matching the top-seeded team's output for much of the first half.

However, head coach Roy Williams' crew extended their lead to 38-29 at intermission, a finish which put the visitor's backs against the wall as they headed to the locker room.

Yet, Johnson's crew bounced back. The Tigers closed the gap and took the lead at the 17:04 mark in the second half, 42-41. With 10:52 left in the game, the Tigers led 57-56, a score which represented Johnson's team's final lead of the season.

Tyler Hansbrough hit on 6-of-11 shooting for 15 points, eight rebounds and a pair of steals, a performance which included a jumper at the 4:45 mark in the second half, a score that gave the Tar Heels their most comfortable lead of the game, 74-63.

North Carolina shot just 54 percent on the game, and the hometown team also clinched the battle on the boards, 33-32.

LSU hit on 29-of-64 shooting (.453) from the field and 9-of-22 (.409) shooting from behind the arc.

Garrett Temple, who returned to NCAA Tournament play for the second time in 2009, recorded just six points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Bo Spencer, who played 34 minutes in his first post-season appearance, recorded eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.

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