No. 2 North Carolina 101, Radford 58
March 19, 2009
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -Tyler Hansbrough took quick care of his latest record pursuit, then helped North Carolina advance in the NCAA tournament without one of its star playmakers.
Hansbrough set the Atlantic Coast Conference career scoring mark in the opening minutes and finished with 22 points to help the Tar Heels beat Radford 101-58 on Thursday, giving the South Region's top seed another easy tournament opener in their home state.
Wayne Ellington had 25 points for the Tar Heels (29-4), who led the entire way and had no trouble beating the 16th-seeded Highlanders even with point guard Ty Lawson, who missed his third straight game with a toe injury.
North Carolina improved to 26-1 in NCAA games played in its home state and advanced to face LSU on Saturday.
The Tar Heels led by 19 at halftime before steadily increasing the margin against Radford (21-12), the Big South Conference champion making just its second NCAA appearance.
Amir Johnson and Joey Lynch-Flohr each scored 12 points to lead the Highlanders, whose last tournament appearance came in 1998.
Hansbrough, the reigning national player of the year, came in with 2,767 points and needed three to pass Duke's J.J. Redick for the ACC record. The 6-foot-9 senior missed his first two shots before tying Redick on a layup about 3 1/2 minutes in, then broke the record on a free throw with 15:43 left in the first half.
The record wasn't announced, but the crowd - packed with fans wearing light blue - knew immediately when it happened. Besides the cheers, many fans held up congratulatory signs, while North Carolina assistant coach Steve Robinson and a few players on the bench also applauded.
True to his typical unflinching focus, Hansbrough didn't do anything to acknowledge the moment and ran back down court. Still, it was the latest honor for a player who earlier this year broke both the career scoring and rebounding records at the storied program.
Ellington got off to a fast start in the tournament, scoring a layup off the opening tip just a few seconds in and finishing 11-for-16 with three 3-pointers. In addition, Danny Green - who shot a combined 3-for-25 in last week's ACC tournament games - bounced back with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
That was more than enough to offset the loss of Lawson, who has been slow to recover from a jammed right big toe suffered in practice two days before the regular-season finale against Duke. Lawson played 36 minutes in that game, but the toe swelled unexpectedly the day after and forced him to miss both of the Tar Heels' ACC tournament games.
Lawson has said he is feeling better and battling more stiffness than pain. He dressed for the game and went through pregame warmups, but it was clear that coach Roy Williams didn't want to play him unless the Tar Heels were at risk of a historic upset.
Bobby Frasor started in Lawson's place, finishing with seven points and three assists.