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Ellington, Hansbrough lead No. 5 UNC past Virginia Tech

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- After spending two weeks fighting through injuries, illness and tough games, No. 5 North Carolina finally got a breather Saturday.

Tyler Hansbrough had 23 points while Wayne Ellington added 19 to help the Tar Heels beat Virginia Tech 92-53, avenging last season's sweep by the Hokies with a start-to-finish dominating performance.

Danny Green added 12 points despite battling the flu for the Tar Heels (24-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 50 percent and held a 54-24 rebounding advantage while turning in what coach Roy Williams called their best defensive performance of the season. It allowed the Tar Heels -- who led by as many as 47 points -- to start emptying their bench with about 4 1/2 minutes left and give their worn-down regulars a chance to rest.

"It's good to have a win like that where you're just going out there having fun and things are going your way and you don't have to grind it out through the whole game," said Marcus Ginyard, who played 27 minutes despite an injured left big toe and a sprained right ankle. "But everybody knows what's coming up and we're going to have more games where we have to grind it out. It was definitely nice today, but we can't think we're going to have much more of that."

North Carolina played its fourth straight game without injured point guard Ty Lawson, the biggest name on a seemingly endless injury report. In addition to Green and Ginyard, Hansbrough (infected toe), Deon Thompson (hyperextended left knee) and Quentin Thomas (back spasms) all played through a variety of ailments.

Thompson managed just 9 first-half minutes before sitting out the second half. But it didn't stop the Tar Heels from holding the Hokies (14-11, 5-6) to 26 percent shooting in the worst loss for Virginia Tech under fifth-year coach Seth Greenberg, who said he wouldn't make his players watch the game film.

"I don't have a chart in my office ranking my embarrassing losses," Greenberg said. "You can take these and flush them down the toilet.

"Obviously [the coaches] will watch it, but I'm not sure John Wooden could get much out of this tape."

Since Lawson sprained his left ankle in an 84-73 overtime win at Florida State on Feb. 3, North Carolina has lost to No. 2 Duke, had to rally from a 15-point deficit to beat Clemson in double overtime and held off Virginia 75-74 on the road Tuesday.

But the Tar Heels finally looked more like themselves against the Hokies, hitting their first four shots and building a double-digit lead just 5 1/2 minutes in. Hansbrough had 12 points in the first half, while reserve Alex Stepheson scored on a stickback and a layup just before the horn to take a 43-23 lead.

Considering the way Virginia Tech was shooting, it might as well have been a 50-point margin. The Hokies went just 7-for-27 in the first half, including 1-for-9 from 3-point range, then missed their first nine shots after the break as the Tar Heels steadily increased the lead.

Hansbrough went 11-for-12 at the free throw line and scored at least 22 points for the fifth straight game despite leaving with 6 minutes left. That allowed him to pass Walter Davis for ninth on the school's career scoring list, while his nine rebounds moved him past Bobby Jones and Mike O'Koren for 14th in that category.

Ellington hit three 3-pointers, while Stepheson (11 points) and reserve Will Graves (10) also cracked double figures.

"The numbers [of healthy players] were falling and people kept coming up with injuries," said Stepheson, who had nine rebounds. "Preparation was kind of hard, practices were getting a little thinner. I always felt healthy so I knew an opportunity would come up."

Thomas -- taking over at the point for Lawson -- finished with six points, six rebounds and seven assists. That included two dunks in the first half, the first time the senior has dunked twice in a college game.

Malcolm Delaney scored 20 points to lead the Hokies, who have lost three straight games to fall farther back in the muddled league race.

"We just came out real flat and didn't look much like we were ready to play," said Deron Washington, who had seven points on 2-for-7 shooting. "They just played great the whole time."

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