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Noel, No. 15 Tar Heels clobber Virginia by 45 at home

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- David Noel's first points admittedly
came on a fluke, a banked 3-pointer from near the top of the key.

Perhaps it was a sign. Nothing was going to stop North Carolina.

"It was a great night to be a Tar Heel, and there's not too
many things I can be disappointed about, to say the least," coach
Roy Williams said.

Noel had 19 of his career-high 26 points in the first half of
the final home game of his career, Reyshawn Terry added 17 points
and North Carolina (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 13 AP) rolled past Virginia 99-54 Wednesday
night.

With the victory, the Tar Heels (20-6, 11-4) clinched a tie for
second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached 20
victories for the 33rd time in 36 seasons. Tyler Hansbrough
finished with 13 points and Marcus Ginyard scored 10 as the
defending national champions won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Noel became the first North Carolina player since Phil Ford in
1978 to get his career best on Senior Night. Ford had 34 points
against Duke.

"Man, it was a blast," Noel said. "I'm glad I was here for
it. I got to experience it, and a lot of people don't."

This one turned into a rout early, and the final margin was the
largest in the 95-year history of the rivalry. The Cavaliers
(14-12, 7-8) had their final lead at 7-5 and the last of three ties
came when Hansbrough converted two free throws on the ensuing
possession.

That started a 20-5 run that increased the margin to 15 points,
and it never fell below 12 the rest of the way.

J.R. Reynolds had 19 points to go over 1,000 for his career and
Sean Singletary scored 14 for Virginia, which still can finish with
a .500 record in the ACC by beating Maryland on Sunday at home.

"It got away before the jump ball," Cavaliers coach Dave
Leitao said. When pressed for the reason, he added, "Not
prepared."

Noel, honored after the final buzzer along with fellow seniors
Byron Sanders and walk-ons Will Robinson and Thomas Wilkins, made
this a memorable outing from the start. He got those three points
on his second shot and continued looking for his offense, and no
matter where he was on the court, his shot was falling.

Noel scored 13 more points in a 2½-minute span, capped with
another 3 to give the Tar Heels a 23-9 lead. All those came off
assists, and North Carolina completed the first half with 14 on its
17 baskets.

"I think this team has done something that every coach wants to
do, and that is gotten better as the season has gone along,"
Williams said. "They've put the effort and the concentration in to
make that happen."

It was 49-24 at halftime before Reynolds scored four quick
points, but the Cavaliers were a long way from a rally. Wes Miller
swished a 3-pointer on the other end, and Terry added another when
the Tar Heels got the ball back.

In between, Virginia had two shots blocked and then lost the
ball out of bounds, where it wound up in Leitao's hands. He held it
against his hip and briefly discussed the play with referee Roger
Ayers, but even Leitao probably knew the game was lost at that
point.

If not then, it was a few minutes later when Quentin Thomas had
consecutive baskets to ignite a 10-2 spurt, and North Carolina led
65-32.

"We kind of got off to a slow start, it happened to us in the
beginning," Reynolds said. "You can't try to come back when
you're down 20 in the second half to a good team, especially when
they're playing at home."

Noel reached his best point total with another 3 for an 80-43
lead, and he left a few minutes later to a rousing ovation. The
other seniors got the same reaction, even Wilkins, who missed two
free throws in the final seconds that would have pushed the Tar
Heels over 100 points.

"It was one of those nights that sort of snowballed on Dave's
team," Williams said. "Basically, everybody that came into the
game gave us good lifts."

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Leitao couldn't say the same.

"I'm trying to draw more from these guys, but right now,
they're not giving it," he said. "I don't know if fatigue is a
part of it or not, physical or mental, but obviously, this is not
the same team that it was a week ago."