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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Thanks to additional injuries, foul trouble and players testing out new positions, No. 5 North Carolina was anything but conventional Wednesday night at Virginia.
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But as has become the norm the past two games, the Tar Heels (23-2, 8-2 ACC) were able to embrace the new identity and piece together a nail-biting 75-74 victory on the road at John Paul Jones Arena.

With 22 seconds remaining and the Cavaliers (11-12, 1-9) down by two, it was fittingly a banged-up Marcus Ginyard - who was questionable with a sprained ankle until tipoff - finding Tyler Hansbrough down low for the decisive two points.

A Sean Singletary 3-pointer with 10 seconds left gave the Cavaliers hope, but they took seven seconds to foul Wayne Ellington and failed to control his missed free throw as the clock ran out.

"Well, we feel very fortunate, and I have no problem saying that," UNC coach Roy Williams said afterward.

The ailing Ginyard ran the offense for large portions of both halves with senior Quentin Thomas on the bench in foul trouble.

While Ginyard might never earn Jason Kidd-esque grades in offensive administration, he displayed more confidence with the ball and allowed the Tar Heels to survive the absence of a true ball handler by dishing out three assists and surrendering only two turnovers in 35 minutes.

"(Ginyard) came up big for us," Danny Green said. "Had a couple of turnovers here and there, but he did a good job. … He's been controlling the team for us."

Ginyard said he gets input from injured point guard Bobby Frasor as he learns the new position.

"It definitely is interesting - it's all an experience for me," he said.

"And I'm just taking it in as much as I can, really trying to learn as much as I can. I'm out there making mistakes here and there, but the biggest thing is just trying to give the best effort that I can."

Although Ginyard survived his stint as point guard, neither he nor any other Tar Heel could slow down Singletary. Whether he was stroking a 3-pointer or setting up a teammate in the Cavaliers' stagnant offense, Singletary kept his team in the game all night and ended with 27 points and seven assists.

"He's really a good player," Williams said of Singletary. "You look at all those charts in the Virginia history, where he is in points, assists, rebounds, all those. … He's a big-time player."

Using 17 first-half points from Hansbrough as well as Ellington's rejuvenated 3-point stroke, the Tar Heels jumped out to an early advantage and finished the half strong to lead 38-31 at intermission.

But UNC's already limited depth took another hit early in the half after Thomas and Green each picked up his fourth foul.

Despite acceptible production from Ellington and Deon Thompson - who limped through the second half with an injured left knee - the Tar Heels struggled to pull away from a Virginia team that committed no turnovers after halftime.

But even at the end of the game with the score close, UNC held true to its mix-and-match formula.

With the shot clock winding down, it was the perimeter-oriented Ellington who caught the ball in the post and jumped between two Virginia defenders for a hard-nosed layup to put UNC up 73-68 with 1:30 left.

"I am extremely proud of how tough our kids are," 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."



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu

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