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Tar Heels limit Collins, escape with win over Hokies

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- As the old man for No. 20 North Carolina,
senior David Noel didn't do a great job of staying on the court
against Virginia Tech on Tuesday night.

But even with their leader watching more than normal because of
foul trouble, and with 9,847 fans in Cassell Coliseum imploring the
Hokies to win, freshman Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of the Tar
Heels did just enough to get a victory.

Hansbrough scored four of his 20 points in the final 1:07 and
grabbed nine rebounds as the Tar Heels never lost the lead late and
held on for a 64-61 victory, their 18th straight over the Hokies.

"It was really important," Hansbrough, who was 6-for-8 from
the field and 8-of-9 at the line, said of keeping the lead. "The
crowd really got into it and they had a big effect. There were a
couple of times there where I couldn't hear the whistle."

That was less true after his shot gave the Tar Heels a 61-57
lead, and again after they kept the ball alive three times, again
nursing a two-point lead, until Hansbrough calmly made two free
throws to all but clinch it with 9.3 seconds left.

It was, Noel and coach Roy Williams agreed, a welcome escape.

"We didn't really play our game today," Noel said after the
youthful Tar Heels turned the ball over 25 times, 14 in the second
half. "That's something that we're going to have to stop doing if
we're going to get big wins in the ACC."

Said Williams: "You just want to win and get out of town in
this league."

North Carolina (10-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which
started three freshmen, also got 10 points from Noel and nine from
Reyshawn Terry, seven over the last 7:37.

Virginia Tech (10-6, 0-3) got 17 points from Wynton Witherspoon
in his first start of the season and 13 from Zabian Dowdell, but
failed to get key rebounds in the final minute, allowing North
Carolina to win its fourth straight overall.

"We've got to be hungrier and play with just a little more chip
on our shoulder to make a play at the end of the game," Hokies
coach Seth Greenberg said.

The Hokies got an improbable chance to force overtime, but Deron
Washington's desperate heave from the right corner hit the front of
the rim.

North Carolina outrebounded the Hokies 39-26 and limited Coleman
Collins, the No. 3 scorer in the ACC with a 17.9 average, to seven
points and three rebounds.

Terry had a dunk and a 3-pointer around a driving layup by
Dowdell, the 3-pointer making it 56-52, then hit two free throws
after Witherspoon's basket pulled the Hokies to 57-56 with 4:04
left, whipping the home crowd into a frenzy.

Hansbrough's basket inside made it 61-57 with 1:07 left, and the
Tar Heels held on, keeping the ball alive three times after a miss
while nursing a 61-59 lead, and then getting it again when Terry
missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 11 seconds left.

When Hansbrough was fouled on the same possession, he made both
shots.

"They were the deeper team. That took its toll," said Dowdell,
who played 38 minutes. All five Hokies starters played at least 32
minutes.

The Hokies opened the second half on a 16-7 run to take a 46-41
lead with 13 minutes left, but Hansbrough scored in the lane twice
and Wes Miller hit two long 3-pointers in a 10-2 run that gave
North Carolina a 51-48 lead with 9:26 to play.

The Tar Heels led 34-30 after a bruising first half that left
Noel on the bench for the last 9:04 with three fouls and five other
players with two fouls.

The Hokies started fast, taking a 19-9 lead after 4½ minutes,
then went cold when point guard Jamon Gordon went to the bench with
his second foul. The Tar Heels quickly put together a 16-1 run over
the next four minutes to lead 25-20 with 8:42 left.

"We let our guard down. We got comfortable," Witherspoon said.
"That's something we've got to work towards correcting."

The Hokies were 0-for-7 with two turnovers during their drought.