North Carolina forward Walter Davis successfully underwent surgery on his broken right index finger early yesterday in Chapel Hill. The team doctor said Davis would be available for later NCAA tournament games if the Tar Heels beat Purdue in the first round Saturday at Raleigh.
Dr. Timothy Taft, an orthopedic surgeon, inserted three small pins into Davis' finger. Taft said Davis could resume practice March 16 adn paly with the broken finger taped to another finger.
Davis played briefly Saturday when North Carolina won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament by beating Virginia. But his ocming into the game ealry in the second half seemed to spark the Heels' 75-69 comeback over the fatigued defending champions.
Carolina center Tommy LaGarde has missed the last eight games with a knee injury. He will be examined today and may be allowed to start running Wednesday.
Coach Dean Smith, who was perturbed over his team's first-round matchup against a relatively strong team, said, "I just wish we had Walter and Tommy, and wed take our chances against anyone."
Smith said he expected Davis to be able to play in the ACC final, but Davis said the finger hurt too much. Smith used senior Bruce Buckley as his big forward and moved freshman Mike O'Koren into Davis position.
The coach said he may stay with that lineup, although he would test sophomore Dudely Bradley and junior Tom Axliagirls at Davis' position in practice.
Carolina has won 11 straight games, eight without LaGarde, in a 24-4 season. Depth, which the Tar Heels appeared to lack earlier, has been helped recently with the return of freshman point guard Dave Colescott from a broken foot and freshman center Jeff Wolf from an appendectomy.
Both Carolina guards, Phil Ford and tourney MVP John Kuester were on the six-man all-tournament team announced yesterday. Joining them were O'Koren, Bobby Stokes and Marc Iavaroni of Virginia and Kenny Carr of N.S. State.
Purdue finished third in the Big 10 behind Michigan and Minnesota (the latter was ineigible for NCAA play). The Boilmakers were 19-7 overall, 13-5 in their conference.
The other game at Raleigh pairs Virginia Military (25-3), the Southern Conference champion, against Duquesne (15-14), the surprising winner of the Eastern Eigh title over Villanova. Saturday's winners advance to College Park for the March 17 regional semifinals.
The Carolina-Purdue winner plays the Notre Dame-Hofstra winner while the VMI-Duquesne winner will play the Kentucky-Princeton winner.