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Tar Heels send a message

No. 4 North Carolina has no problem against cold-shooting Arizona, 92-64, handing Olson his worst home defeat in 24 years as coach of Wildcats.

January 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

TUCSON — North Carolina stepped away from the Atlantic Coast Conference for a day and stepped all over Arizona.

Playing without Brandan Wright, their second-leading scorer and rebounder, the No. 4 Tar Heels routed the 17th-ranked Wildcats, 92-64, on Saturday, handing Lute Olson his worst home loss in 24 seasons as Arizona's coach.

Wright and backup swingman Marcus Ginyard sat out the game because of stomach illnesses.

But the Tar Heels (19-2) missed neither as they posted their fourth consecutive victory.

"I think it is a big statement about how deep our team is, that we have guys on the bench who can start and we can still win a game like this," said forward Deon Thompson, who replaced Wright and scored 14 points.

Thompson, like Wright, is a freshman. So is guard Ty Lawson, whose season-high 18 points led six Tar Heels in double figures.

"North Carolina is very, very, very good, and will get even better with the number of young players that they have," Olson said.

North Carolina, which beat the Wildcats, 86-69, at Chapel Hill last season, ended Arizona's 29-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents, the fourth-longest in the nation.

As the jubilant Tar Heels headed home, the Wildcats (14-6) tried to figure out what had hit them. Previously, Olson's worst home defeat was a 12-point loss to Tennessee on Dec. 23, 1983.

"I just told the guys, 'This is a nightmare. Forget it,' " Olson said. "We're not even going to look at the tapes."

While they're at it, the Wildcats might not want to look at the stat sheet, which showed that they had as many turnovers (20) as baskets and shot one for 23 from three-point range.

"We are absolutely ecstatic we got the win, but realistically we caught them on a day when the ball wouldn't go in," North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said. "We feel as lucky as can be to beat a great program in a game like this when they didn't shoot the ball well."

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