CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Ty Lawson's big shots helped North Carolina overcome Jack McClinton's huge game.
Lawson sealed the game with a 3-pointer with 10.6 seconds left, and No. 3 North Carolina held off a comeback bid from Miami on the way to a 69-65 win Sunday night.
The Tar Heels' point guard, who was fighting an illness all day, scored 21 points and Wayne Ellington added 15 for North Carolina (23-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). But even combined, they barely topped McClinton, who led all scorers with a dazzling 35 points -- and did so with 15 NBA scouts in attendance.
Brian Asbury scored 12 for Miami (15-9, 4-7), which has lost six of its last eight, its last two now to Duke and the Tar Heels by a combined five points.
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The win, combined with Duke and Clemson losses earlier Sunday, left the Heels two games up in the loss column in the ACC.
All-American Tyler Hansbrough was held to eight points and four rebounds for the Tar Heels, but took a key charge on Asbury with 44.3 seconds left to protect what was a one-point lead.
The Hurricanes were down 54-40 with 12:01 remaining, but had the Tar Heels scrambling to the finish.
Miami was without starting forward Dwayne Collins, who sprained his left ankle in practice Saturday. So without their second-leading scorer and top rebounder, the Hurricanes put even more of a burden on McClinton.
He came through -- almost enough to shoot down the Heels.
After Ellington hit a 3-pointer to give North Carolina that 14-point lead, McClinton scored eight points from the perimeter in 64 seconds, including a pair of 3s to get Miami within six with 9:14 remaining.
And when he drove the lane for an easy layup with 5:27 left -- giving him 30 points -- the Hurricanes were within 58-54.
But whenever North Carolina needed something, Lawson came through in what turned into a 3-point contest.
He connected from beyond the arc, only to have Adrian Thomas answer with 3:19 left to get Miami within one. So Lawson hit -- what else? -- another 3-pointer, thumping his arm across his chest for good measure.
McClinton answered, naturally, with an arm-thumping 3 of his own, but that was the Hurricanes' last hurrah. Hansbrough took the charge on Asbury in the final minute, Lawson sealed it with yet another 3, and the Heels held on.
North Carolina opened 9-for-27 from the field. Miami scored the game's first seven points, and McClinton set the tone by carrying the Hurricanes for much of the opening half.
He was 5-for-9 in the first 8 1/2 minutes, while his teammates opened a combined 1-for-14.
Eventually, the rest of the Hurricanes got going. It just wasn't enough to beat UNC.
Hansbrough didn't have a single point or rebound until 8:35 remained in the half, scoring on a drive to give North Carolina a four-point lead. Hansbrough added a jumper about a minute later to push the Tar Heels' edge to 22-16.
Asbury and Thomas hit consecutive 3-pointers to start a 10-0 run by Miami, taking advantage of a stretch where North Carolina was 0-for-6 with two turnovers.
But North Carolina closed the half the same way the Hurricanes started it -- with a 7-0 run, taking a 29-26 lead into intermission.
McClinton's 35 points were the most North Carolina has allowed to an ACC player this season.