Feb. 28, 2009
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Tyler Hansbrough scored 28 points and set the NCAA’s career free-throw shooting record in No. 4 North Carolina’s 104-74 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Danny Green added 23 points for the Tar Heels (25-3, 11-3). The Atlantic Coast Conference leaders bounced back from their overtime loss at Maryland a week earlier and used a pair of huge runs to reach the 25-win mark for the third straight year.
North Carolina took the lead for good during a 21-5 run midway through the first half that also put them up by double figures to stay, and pushed the lead to 20 barely 2 minutes into the second half while opening the half with a 14-2 spurt.
Deon Thompson and Wayne Ellington added 10 points apiece, and the Tar Heels shot 53.6 percent while forcing 18 turnovers and keeping Tech’s freshman star, Iman Shumpert, scoreless for the first time this season.
But the star of this one – as it always seems to be whenever Georgia Tech comes to town – was Hansbrough.
The big man’s career high of 40 points came as a freshman in 2006 against the Yellow Jackets, and he averaged nearly 31 points in three meetings with them at the Dean Smith Center.
He entered having made 899 free throws – six shy of Dickie Hemric’s mark of 905. He tied Hemric with 6:43 left in the first half and broke the record by swishing a foul shot with 14:54 to play – and, in Hansbrough’s typically understated style, appeared oblivious to the record until his accomplishment was announced a few minutes later during a timeout. He hit all eight of his foul shots, giving him a career total of 907.
Of course, his dominance wasn’t limited to the free-throw line. He scored 11 of North Carolina’s first 13 points, had 18 at halftime and was 10-for-13 from the field to bounce back from his 4-for-12 shooting performance last time out.
That 88-85 overtime loss to Maryland was one to forget for the Tar Heels, who were still fuming over their self-described selfish play in the defeat. After dwelling on it for a week, they got back to the dominating form that has them in prime position to claim No. 1 seeds in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
They also got back to getting their teammates involved: Ty Lawson didn’t hit a field goal, but he matched a season high with 11 assists a week after the point guard managed a season-low two against the Terrapins. The Tar Heels had assists on their first five baskets – they had that many in the entire Maryland game – and finished with 26.
Neither team led by more than three before Green’s 3 from the left corner at the 9-minute mark started the first-half run that put North Carolina in charge.
The efficient Tar Heels scored on 10 of 14 possessions, held Georgia Tech to two field goals during a 7-minute stretch and owned the glass by limiting the Yellow Jackets to two rebounds over a 9-minute span.
Bobby Frasor capped the burst with a drive down the lane that made it 43-28 with 2:41 before the break, and that had the Yellow Jackets well on their way to their ninth straight road defeat of the season and eighth consecutive loss on a Top 25 team’s home floor since 2004.
Gani Lawal added 12 points for Georgia Tech.