Ty Lawson's toe knows no bounds.
OK, it knows some bounds, sending him to the bench a few times in the first half, and slowing the guard down more effectively than the Tigers perimeter defense. But by the second half, he could not be stopped, scoring 21 of his 23 points after the break to allow UNC to finally pull away after the six-minute mark.
The six-minute mark was also when two things went wrong for LSU. First, Chris Johnson, the center whose four blocks and defensive pressure in a loosely-called game had been giving UNC fits on the interior, picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench. (He certainly was held there too long, not returning until 2:30 remaining with his team down 13.) Second, Danny Green got a handle on guarding Marcus Thornton, who was the Tigers only scorer for a nine minute stretch in the second half that kept LSU in the game. With him shut down, Lawson approaching full speed, and the LSU layers sucking wind - only seven got any serious time on the court - and the team just collapsed, allowing UNC to run away late.
Perimeter shootingwise, Ellington continued is postseason success, making at least three three-pointers for the fourth straight game and breaking twenty points for the third. Danny Green continued to struggle, as he hasn't gone off since the Georgia tech game, but made up for it on the defensive end. And Bobby Frasor's unwillingness to shoot is actually bothering me, but UNC seems to end up with points when he passes up the open looks, so it just be a personal thing on my part.
Other observations from seeing the game live:
- LSU fans were very uncomfortable having the Duke fans - once they finally showed midway through the game - on their side. And once Duke-Texas started, the LSU fans were mute. A fair number of UNC fans, on the other hand, actually had Texas gear in reserve for the second game. They were quieter though, as cheering for Texas is still a little tough for a lot of Carolina fans.
- The NCAA has gone into total messaging lockdown at the tournament site. All stadium ads have ben covered by NCAA-branded temporary signs. The courts are NCAA provided and festooned with NCAA logos, hence the uniform appearance across al the tournament sites. (It does mean the end of the hazardous floor stickers of years past, but it's still creepy.)
- The NCAA also does not feel the need to show any remotely controversial play in replay on the scoreboard, or keep people informed about other NCAA tournament games. At best we'd get score updates once or twice a game. There were a boatload of highlights from tournaments past, and ads for every NCAA even within a 300 mile radius in the next six months. (Raleigh has a gymnastics regional! West Virginia, a golf regional! Yawn.)
- Lawson got the biggest cheer the first time he ran full speed down the court for a layup. I think everyone was happy the toe didn't explode or anything.
- I'd have pictures, but the Greensboro Coliseum was in full-lockdown mode. On the trip back to the car to stow the camera though, I got to see a traffic cop hold up a line of cars solely because a Duke fan wouldn't stop honking. That was fun.
- Does anyone else find Duke fans wearing "Cameron Crazies" shirts (with the Nike logo, natch) to just be silly? It's like wearing a shirt that says "Fan."