No. 1 Tar Heels Hold Off Wolfpack
Jan. 1, 2009
RENO, Nev. (AP) - Tyler Hansbrough missed the only shot he took the first 8 minutes against Nevada, but he took over after that to help keep top-ranked North Carolina undefeated.
Hansbrough finished with 22 points Wednesday night as the Tar Heels dispatched of the Wolf Pack 84-61 - their school-record 13th straight win by double figures.
"I was just waiting for the game to come to me," said Hansbrough, who made 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-10 free throws. "I wasn't rushing. I wasn't trying to force anything."
Wayne Ellington added 15 points and Ty Lawson had 11 points and seven assists for North Carolina (13-0), which trailed early but put together a 10-1 run midway through the first half capped by Hansbrough's 3-pointer to take control of the game.
Freshman Luke Babbitt had 22 points, Armon Johnson 15 and Malik Cooke 13 for Nevada (7-6), which trailed 41-27 at the half and shot only 35 percent from the field on the game.
It marked the seventh straight 20-point game for Hansbrough, North Carolina's career scoring leader, who also had three rebounds to move past Brad Daugherty into a tie with Mitch Kupchak for fifth on the school career rebounding list with 1,006.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he was disappointed with his team's defensive play at times, especially the fouls that allowed Nevada to make 16-of-24 free throws.
"Letting them shoot 20 free throws in the second half is not what we want to do. You've got to win some games like this that are a little uglier than you like, but we've got a pretty dog-gone good basketball team that took a good shot from a good team and still got a win," Williams said.
Nevada coach Mark Fox said he thought his players tired in the second half.
"The thing about North Carolina, they just keep coming at you. They never let up. I just think we got a little tired. We kept competing and I was proud of our guys for that. But fatigue did set in," Fox said.
"For the first two-thirds of the first half we played with a purpose and we had things go the way we wanted. But we couldn't sustain it," he said. "There's no shame in losing to Carolina. That is a great, great team."
Nevada opened a 14-12 lead while holding Hansbrough scoreless early, but he made a pair of free throws to spark the 10-1 run that put the Tar Heels up 22-15 8:47 before the half. He followed a 14-foot jumper with a slam dunk and two free throws and Ellington nailed a 3-pointer from the corner just before the halftime buzzer.
The Tar Heels took their first 20-point lead when Ed Davis made two free throws after Fox was whistled for a technical foul to make it 54-34 with 14:19 left in the game. They went up 71-48 when Hansbrough scored seven straight - on a 3-point play, a two-handed dunk and a basket inside with 6:20 remaining.
"I think they came out pretty strong," Hansbrough said about Nevada. "Obviously I didn't think overall we played a good game. But we're going to practice and get better rebounding the ball and get some better passing."
No opponent has come closer than 15 points against these Tar Heels, who entered Wednesday night's game averaging 95.8 points per game and winning by an average margin of 26.8.
They are riding a 39-game regular season winning streak against non-conference foes and open play in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday at home against Boston College.
"We've had some tough games and we've had some tough opponents," Ellington said. "We're definitely looking forward to our league starting. I think we're well prepared."