Injury Problems

Even if it was just a few days, North Carolina was glad to get a break.

The fifth-ranked Tar Heels are hoping they've had enough time to recover from a rash of injuries Saturday as they host a Virginia Tech team that beat them twice last season.

The Tar Heels (23-2, 8-2 ACC) played the third of a brutal stretch of games on Tuesday, hanging on to win 75-74 at Virginia despite a slew of injuries at the point guard position.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made North Carolina –13.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 62% of bets for this game have been placed on Virginia Tech +13.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Ty Lawson, a cornerstone of North Carolina's uptempo offense, missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle, and Marcus Ginyard, who has been backing up Quentin Thomas in Lawson's absence, played on a sprained ankle he suffered two days earlier in a 103-93 double-overtime win against Clemson.

North Carolina's original backup point guard, Bobby Frasor, is already out for the season after suffering a knee injury in December. Even forward Tyler Hansbrough, who had 23 points and hit a critical baby hook with 21 seconds left Tuesday, was playing on a sore toe.

"I am extremely proud of how tough our kids are," coach Roy Williams said. "I am not extremely proud of how we handle the ball and those kinds of things, but that is a tough bunch of kids in that locker room."

Williams is hoping that the three-day layoff will give his team, which lost 89-78 to No. 2 Duke four days before the Clemson game, some time to nurse its various ailments.

"We have certainly had no rest," Williams said. "We lost last Wednesday to Duke, and I do not care what anyone says, that affects you. Then to get off to such a bad start Sunday and have to dig deep and end up winning the Clemson game after two overtimes. Then to turn around less than 48 hours later and play up here, we have to get some rest."

But on Friday, North Carolina received some more bad news as forwards Deon Thompson and Danny Green are questionable for this game.

Thompson has started North Carolina's previous 25 games and averages more than nine points, but he hyperextended his left knee Tuesday night. He was scheduled to practice on a limited basis Friday.

Green was held out of practice with the flu. He is scoring more than 11 points per game as the Tar Heels' sixth man.

Virginia Tech (14-10, 5-5), meanwhile, has not played since falling 74-71 to Miami last Saturday. And though the Hokies have lost their last two games, they have some reason to be optimistic heading into this matchup - they won both of their meetings against the Tar Heels last season, including 81-80 in overtime in their first game at the Dean Dome.

However, Virginia Tech will need to figure out a way to slow down Hansbrough, who has averaged 28.0 points and 14.8 rebounds over his last four games. He had 39 points against Clemson, one off his career high.

"It makes us tougher," Hansbrough said of the three straight close games. "We know what to do in tough situations. We know where the ball needs to go."

Virginia Tech is led by A.D. Vassallo, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half against the Hurricanes and is averaging a team-high 16.3 points. However, his highest-scoring game of the season wasn't enough for the Hokies, who were coming off a 73-63 loss at North Carolina State on Feb. 5.

"I don't know if I'd say we're struggling," coach Seth Greenberg told Virginia Tech's official Web site. "We lost at Raleigh, and N.C. State has good players, and Miami has good players."

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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