ACC Baskteball: UNC 108, College of Charleston 70
By Aaron Beard
CHAPEL HILL ó At least North Carolina can say it responded to a loss a lot better than it did a close game.
Tyler Hansbrough had 24 points to help the third-ranked Tar Heels beat College of Charleston 108-70 on Wednesday night, bouncing back from their stunning home loss against Boston College over the weekend.
Deon Thompson added 15 points for the Tar Heels (14-1), who used a 19-2 run spanning halftime to turn the game into a rout. North Carolina shot 59 percent for the game, played improved defense in the second half and cracked the 100-point mark for the fifth time this year.
It was exactly what the Tar Heels needed after Sunday’s 85-78 loss to the Eagles, a defeat that cost them the No. 1 ranking they had held since the preseason. It also came at the right time considering they have a trip to unbeaten and fourth-ranked Wake Forest looming this weekend.
“I think we’ve all had it on our mind in practice,” Hansbrough said of the BC loss. “Everybody was disappointed and we felt there were some things we wanted to do better as a team. But also there was this feeling like we wanted to get some of that out of our system, some of that feeling of disappointment, by coming out and playing well tonight.
“It’s still going to be there, but it helps that we came out and won and played well.”
North Carolina returned their top six scorers from a Final Four team that won a school-record 36 games, making them everybody’s pick to win the national championship. The hype seemed justified as they won their first 13 games by double-digit margins, prompting questions of whether they could go unbeaten.
At the least, North Carolina sounded eager to see how they’d handle a tougher game. The first test didn’t go well as it trailed the entire second half against a team picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now the Tar Heels face a critical early ACC contest against the Demon Deacons as they seek to avoid an 0-2 start in league play.
North Carolina’s offense certainly looked a lot sharper than against the Eagles. After shooting 29 percent in the second half against BC, the Tar Heels became the first team in more than three decades to score 100 points against the Cougars (10-3), ending a 951-game streak that began in December 1977 and ranked second nationally.
“It was good because we haven’t done that in a couple of games, where we pull away and win by 30 or something like that,” point guard Ty Lawson said. “Mentally it’s going to be good for us and hopefully going into Wake, we can do some of the same things.”
College of Charleston hung around early by hitting eight first-half 3s and trailed just 45-39 with 3 minutes left in the first half. But the Tar Heels got their transition game going, getting an alley-oop layup from Danny Green before Lawson’s baseline-to-baseline runner at the buzzer gave the Tar Heels a 53-41 lead at the break.
The Tar Heels put the game out of reach quickly, scoring the first 11 points ó starting with a 3-pointer and ending with a transition layup from Wayne Ellington ó to make it 64-41 with 17:44 left.
North Carolina led by as many as 43 points from there and played better defense against the Cougars’ penetrate-and-kick attack that led to a lot of open jumpers early.