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December 20, 2008

Hansbrough leads UNC past Valparaiso

CHICAGO -- Once Tyler Hansbrough heated up, so did No. 1 North Carolina.

Hansbrough scored 25 points, and the Tar Heels overcame a sluggish start Saturday before rolling to an 85-63 victory over Valparaiso.

"We hoped we gained something out of this game," Coach Roy Williams said. "We played better than we did against Oral Roberts and Evansville. It was a great game for us to play against somebody who plays a lot of zone. We haven't played against much zone this year."

Carolina scheduled this game for the United Center in Chicago because it was Bobby Frasor's homecoming game.

"I'm really happy for him," Williams said. "He has been struggling shooting the ball, but then he came out and made two big threes and gave us a little hope there early. There were not a lot of good things happening for us."

Eventually, UNC stopped shooting so many jumpers and got the ball to Hansbrough. Hansbrough, who became Carolina's career scoring leader Thursday night in a victory against Evansville, sparked runs at the end of the first half and beginning of the second.

"At one point, I said to some guys on the bench: 'What have we done the last five [possessions]? We shot five jump shots in a row. They're playing zone, and we're doing what they want us to do. We haven't thrown the ball to Tyler.'

"We throw the ball to Tyler, and he makes a 10-footer on the baseline. The next time down, we throw in and Wayne [Ellington] gets a layup."

North Carolina (11-0) won by double figures for the 11th straight game, tying a school record also held by the 1992-93 team that won the national championship.

Valparaiso (3-7) was facing the No. 1 team for the fifth straight season and the seventh time in school history. The Crusaders are now 0-7 in those games.

Urule Igbavboa, who picked up four fouls in the first half, and Michael Rogers led Valparaiso with 16 points each.

Hansbrough scored eight straight points -- two free throws, a layup after a steal, a slam and a jumper -- to get the Tar Heels started on a 12-0 run late in the first half that built a 38-25 lead. They were ahead 41-31 at the half.

North Carolina then scored the first nine points of the second half to pull away from the Crusaders.

One minute in the second half, Hansbrough made a nice entry pass to Deon Thompson for a basket and then muscled his way for a three-point play and a 15-point lead. Hansbrough followed that with a steal and a soft jumper to put Carolina in control at 48-31.

"Tyler sets a good example for the game, and the way the game is played," Williams said.

Hansbrough was knocked to the floor on a hard foul by Valpo's De'Andre Haskins with 3:32 left and after making one of two free throws left the game with his team up 81-53. He shot 9-for-13 from the field.

Valparaiso came out hustling. The Crusaders forced six early turnovers with a bothersome zone defense and got three-pointers from Rogers and Howard Little for a 12-3 lead less than five minutes into the game.

But Frasor, from the Chicago suburb of Blue Island, got the Tar Heels on track with back-to-back three-pointers and then fed Ty Lawson for another three to tie the game.

Minutes later, Ellington hit another three-pointer to give the Tar Heels their first lead at 15-14 with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half. Hansbrough's first basket of the game at the 11:40 mark capped a 14-2 run and put North Carolina up three.

Moments after the 6-foot-8 Igbavboa got his third foul, Hansbrough made a steal near the top of the key and drove all the way in for the basket against Igbavboa to put North Carolina up five. After a timeout and with Igbavboa on the bench, Hansbrough took a nice pass from Frasor and dunked.

Valpo finished with 25 turnovers.

North Carolina has won 37 straight regular-season games against non-conference opponents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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