Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tar Heels respond with another road victory

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - When North Carolina has needed a big victory this season, the fourth-ranked Tar Heels have gone on the road to get it.

"It's been a weird season," said coach Roy Williams.

Williams wasn't just talking about his team, which beat 21st-ranked Boston College 77-72 Saturday at the Conte Forum to move into a first-place tie in the ACC with Virginia. He was talking about the entire league. Williams pointed out that earlier this week, five teams won ACC games on opposing floors.

But North Carolina has gotten its road victories under perhaps the most difficult circumstances. After three of the Tar Heels' four losses, they played ranked teams on the road. And North Carolina has responded with victories at Clemson, Duke and, finally, Boston College.

Overall, the Tar Heels are 6-2 away from home.

"Maybe everybody makes such a big deal of winning on the road that it gets to be bigger than it really is," said Williams. "But we've got good players and when the other crowd is going crazy, they've got to focus and concentrate more. I love it, going on the road and playing well."

Boston College's Jared Dudley, the league's top scorer and rebounder, had 22 points against North Carolina, but just three rebounds against the Tar Heels' sizeable front line. North Carolina outrebounded the Eagles 33-25, with Tyler Hansbrough grabbing seven and Reyshawn Terry and point guard Ty Lawson each getting six.

Williams defended the play this season of Terry, a senior who hit an important 3-pointer with 3:47 left to give the Tar Heels a seven-point lead. Terry, who was scoreless at halftime, finished with 10 points.

"The ball hasn't been going in the basket for him this season," Williams said. "But he's played good defense all year long. He needs some positive things to happen to him."

The Tar Heels got another important basket after the Eagles cut the lead to 64-63 on a basket by point guard Tyrese Rice with 9 minutes, 26 seconds left. North Carolina inbounded the ball quickly and point guard Ty Lawson beat everybody down the court for a layup six seconds later.

"We practice that," said Williams. "We have contests in practice for that. We look at the play-by-play sheets and see how quickly we've scored after the other teams and try to improve on that."