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Tar Heels cruise into semis

TAMPA -- One day after four lower seeds advanced to the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, top-seeded North Carolina made certain it wasn't summarily dispatched by holding form in its relatively breezy 73-58 victory over ninth-seeded Florida State yesterday at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Tar Heels (26-6) will face fourth-seeded Boston College in the first game of today's semifinal doubleheader at 1:30 p.m. It will mark a rematch of last year's semifinal matchup in Greensboro, N.C., which BC won, 85-82.

"We're glad to be able to stay here another day and play," said UNC coach Roy Williams, whose team scored a 77-72 victory at BC Feb. 17 in the only regular-season meeting between the ACC tourney semifinalists. "It's the way you should look at it in a tournament. I truly believe you build your momentum once you get in a tournament."

Sophomore center Tyler Hansbrough, an All-ACC first-team selection, looked uncomfortable playing his first game in a protective mask after breaking his nose in the regular-season finale against Duke last Sunday. Although Hansbrough scored just 6 points and grabbed four rebounds, guards Wayne Ellington (18 points) and Ty Lawson (14 points) picked up the slack by combining for 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists.

"I thought we tried to fight through some silliness and I thought we did a good job of that, but we needed to get the ball inside [to Hansbrough]," Williams said. "I really felt for Tyler today, playing with that mask on. The doctors really wanted him to do it and I was able to convince him to do it today. I don't know if I'll be able to convince him to do it tomorrow."

Reyshawn Terry gave the Tar Heels a huge lift with 10 points and nine rebounds while freshman forward Brandan Wright added 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.

N.C. State 79, Virginia 71 -- Gavin Grant scored 9 of his 20 points in the final two minutes and the Wolfpack rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to pull off its second straight upset.

A night after ending seventh-seeded Duke's reign as tourney champions, 10th-seeded North Carolina State (17-14) rode Grant and Brandon Costner (23 points) into the semifinals by shooting 74 percent and outscoring the second-seeded Cavaliers (20-10), 53-31, in the second half.

Va. Tech 71, Wake Forest 52 -- A.D. Vassallo scored 22 points, Deron Washington added 13, and the Hokies pulled away from the worn-out Demon Deacons.

Third-seeded Virginia Tech (21-10) used a fast-paced tempo to take advantage of No. 11 seed Wake's short turnaround following a double-overtime victory against Georgia Tech that ended well past midnight.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.