Wednesday, March 11, 2009
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No one has been able to keep up with Ty Lawson all year, not even in the race to be considered the Atlantic Coast Conference's top player.
The speedy junior was named the ACC player of the year Tuesday after guiding top-ranked North Carolina to the league's regular-season championship despite an 0-2 start in the league. Lawson earned 31 of 76 votes from Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association members, becoming the first point guard to win the award since Tar Heel legend Phil Ford in 1978.
Florida State's Toney Douglas finished second with 27 votes after helping the Seminoles finish fourth in the regular season. Reigning league and national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough was third with 13 votes.
Hansbrough was the unanimous preseason choice to win the award and led the ACC in scoring for a second straight season. But by the end of the year, Lawson had emerged as the Tar Heels' most valuable and irreplaceable player with a series of dominating late-game performances - most notably in a pair of wins against rival Duke.
'I don't mind being overshadowed because Tyler is a great player,' Lawson said. 'He just does everything for this team. But to come out and have everybody know how well I've been playing, it just makes you feel good with all the hard work I've done.'
It was the 13th time a North Carolina player has won the award, which is tied with Duke for most in league history. It also marked the first time the program had won the award in consecutive seasons since Larry Miller in 1967 and '68.