UNC needs to prepare for LSU's secret play

From Staff ReportsMarch 20, 2009 

— North Carolina better take a close look at the tape from Louisiana State's 75-71 win over Butler on Thursday. Apparently, the Tar Heels will have a lot of work to do in the scouting department, if LSU guard Marcus Thornton is telling the truth.

"We have a play call we've been running the whole year, and nobody can stop it," said Thornton, who scored 30 points against the Bulldogs. "If they were on me, [Tasmin Mitchell] was open or my teammates were open."

Thornton did not disclose how that play worked in LSU's seven losses, but it seemed to click Thursday. The Tigers shot 49.1 percent after making less than 40 percent of their shots in their previous four games.

Their 6-for-14 performance from 3-point range was their best in five games.

"The ball hadn't been going down the last couple games," Thornton said. "Everybody took their time, had poise and knocked down their shots."

The eighth-seeded Tigers play the Tar Heels at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.

ABRAMS ERUPTS: After watching his seventh-seeded Longhorns struggle to hit shots this season, Texas coach Rick Barnes said Wednesday that he goes out for each game "hoping maybe this is the time we're going to do it."

Thursday, A.J. Abrams did it.

The senior guard was 5-of-8 on 3-point attempts in the second half -- including hitting four in a row that pushed the Longhorns' lead from three to 15 -- to push his team past Minnesota, 76-62.

Texas will play Duke or Binghamton on Saturday.

"I think [my streak] has to do with the first half," said Abrams, who finished with 26 points. "We were pounding it inside to Dex [Pittman] ... so I think they had to focus on him a little more."

TY'S TOE: UNC point guard Ty Lawson, who missed his third straight game because of a jammed right big toe, said he hopes to play Saturday against LSU, but coach Roy Williams had "no idea about Ty."

"If he's able to practice and do some things in practice, I'll probably play him," Williams said. "But if he's like he was [Wednesday], then I'm not going to play him."

MONEY TALKS: Former Duke star Kenny Dennard came up with an original bracket for the tournament. Now a businessman in the Houston area, Dennard picked winners based on the average salary of the 65 schools' graduates.

His Final Four: Michigan, Duke, Cornell and Southern California. The champ: Duke ($102,000) over Cornell ($91,700).

UNC ($73,100) reached the third round before losing to Illinois ($80,800). Wake Forest ($85,800) did well, reaching the Midwest Regional final before falling to USC ($91,600) by mere pocket change.

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