College Basketball: North Carolina 87, Rutgers 48
By Bret Strelow
CHAPEL HILL — Senior guard Wes Miller can mimic the movements and mannerisms of head coach Roy Williams.
Ty Lawson’s impression of Williams is a work in progress.
The development of freshmen such as Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Brandan Wright continued in second-ranked North Carolina’s 87-48 victory against visiting Rutgers on Thursday night.
Lawson recorded a career-high nine assists without committing a turnover, Ellington finished with 17 points thanks to 5-for-6 shooting from 3-point range, and Wright led the Tar Heels (11-1) with 19 points.
Lawson has totalled 51 assists and 10 turnovers in seven straight starts over the last month, and he’s dished out at least eight assists in the last four games.
“It falls to me — call the defense, call the offense, pressure the ball,” Lawson said. “He basically wants me to be a little Roy Williams on the court.”
Miller, UNC’s backup point guard because of injuries to Bobby Frasor and Quentin Thomas, had five assists and no turnovers in 14 minutes.
Rutgers (6-6) played without starting point guard Anthony Farmer and starting forward JR Inman, who served one-game suspensions for academic reasons, and the Scarlet Knights received two assists and 10 turnovers from their point guards.
Rutgers trailed 33-19 after shooting 28.6 percent in the first half, and the Tar Heels shot 64.5 percent during a 54-point second half that featured 19 assists on 20 baskets.
“In the second half, I liked what we did offensively,” Williams said. “We were not selfish, and we did not try to go on our own. Wayne hit two big 3s right there in a row for us.”
The Tar Heels led 37-23 when Miller and Danny Green joined Ellington, Wright and Tyler Hansbrough (13 points, seven rebounds) in the lineup with 16:45 left.
Ellington made three 3-pointers during a 16-2 run that covered the next three minutes.
Marcus Ginyard took Ellington’s place 12 seconds after the final shot of that stretch.
“I felt bad that I was coming in for him because he had just hit a 3,” Ginyard said. “I felt bad coming in for him, but I had no problem with watching him. That’s fun to watch from the bench.”
Ellington, who added another 3-pointer later in the half, bounced back from a rough outing against Saint Louis.
The Billikens held him to three points on 1-for-7 shooting last Friday, and he matched that output by hitting a 3-pointer five minutes into the matchup with Rutgers.
Williams slapped hands with Ellington following his hot streak and joked that the right one was still warm.
“It feels like you can put up anything and it will drop for you,” Ellington said. “Basically it’s what you practice. You get out there and you just see the rim, and that’s all you see.”
Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.