Though North Carolina would certainly feel more secure going into today's ACC tournament semifinal against Florida State with point guard Ty Lawson on the floor, Bobby Frasor and Larry Drew II proved Friday they can be at least adequate fill-ins.
Lawson sat on the bench in UNC's 79-76 win against Virginia Tech, wearing his uniform and a special shoe on his right foot to protect a sprained big toe. In his place, Frasor started and Drew came off the bench.
Frasor, a senior who started as a freshman, and Drew, a freshman, teamed to make just one of six shots from the floor and scored a total of four points. Yet, they also had seven rebounds, seven assists and only three turnovers combined.
"No one is going to be able to fill Ty's shoes," Frasor said. "He's the ACC player of the year … I just wanted to come in with a steady hand, not turn the ball over and get guys the ball."
Seldom-used UNC guard Justin Watts, the son of a former Peninsula District star, played five minutes against Virginia Tech, contributing one assist.
A freshman from Durham, N.C., Watts had played only 13 minutes against ACC competition this season. He is the son of Gregory Watts, who, as a Menchville High senior in 1976, was the Peninsula District's No. 3 scorer behind Phoebus' Boo Williamsand Hampton's Art Jones.
"Justin has been hurt a little bit, but he gave us some good moments," Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He was really intelligent one time. We threw him the ball in the corner, and he saw Tyler (Hansbrough) was open inside, so he got him the ball there."
Today's UNC-Florida State game reunites teams that staged one of the regular season's best games.
In their only meeting, the Tar Heels won 80-77 at FSU when Lawson caught an inbounds pass in the backcourt, raced toward the bucket and hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer. He finished with a team-high 22 points, but, of course, he's likely to miss his second consecutive game today.
Seminoles guard Toney Douglas scored 32 points against UNC. Hansbrough, the reigning national player of the year, was saddled with foul trouble and scored a season-low eight points.
After seeing Georgia Tech guard Lewis Clinch score 32 points Thursday against Clemson, Florida State decided to throw an odd matchup at him Friday.
FSU forward Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-9 freshman, was asked to guard the 6-3 Clinch for much of FSU's 64-62 victory. Clinch scored 25 points.
He was 9-for-23 shooting (39 percent) from the floor against the Seminoles, including 7-for-18 from 3-point range. Against Clemson, he made 11 of 20 field-goal attempts (55 percent).
"This is how it has been over the last couple of games," said Clinch, whose 18 attempts from 3-point range were a single-game ACC tournament record. "As a competitor, I still have to go out there and knock down shots when I get good looks."
Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney made four of seven free throws in the 79-76 loss to UNC, his worst effort at the line since a 1-for-3 outing Jan. 10 against Virginia. Delaney ranked third in the ACC during the regular season at 87.2 percent.
The Tar Heels outrebounded the Hokies 44-33, Tech's largest rebounding deficit of the season.
"We thought we were blocking out," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said in a none-too-subtle jab at the officiating. "I guess we weren't blocking out well enough."
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