North Carolina did fine without its top player to open the Maui Invitational. It may have to do it again.
The No. 1 Tar Heels could be without star Tyler Hansbrough for a second straight contest when they face Oregon in the tournament semifinals on Tuesday night.
North Carolina (4-0) didn’t miss the reigning national player of the year in its 115-70 victory over Division II Chaminade in its first Maui appearance since winning the 2004 tournament title.
The 6-foot-9 Hansbrough scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 25 minutes of an 84-67 victory at Santa Barbara on Friday in his debut after missing the first two games with a stress reaction in his right shin. He also appeared to injure his left ankle near the end of that contest, leaving him questionable for the start of the Maui event.
“If this had been for the national championship he would have played,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “I made my mind up before we left Santa Barbara that he wouldn’t play three straight days and he tweaked his left ankle at the end of that game. If he doesn’t play two games now it will be because of the other leg.”
The Tar Heels are likely to be fine if Hansbrough is unable to go against Oregon (3-1), which beat Alabama 92-69 in Monday’s final first-round game. North Carolina is 3-0 versus the Ducks all-time.
The winner of this contest will face either No. 6 Texas or No. 8 Notre Dame in Wednesday’s championship game.
Danny Green scored a career-high 26 points and Ty Lawson had 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and six assists Monday for North Carolina, which shot 52.5 percent in the first half (21-of-40), while holding undermanned Chaminade to 28.6 percent (8-of-28).
“We played very well,” said Williams, whose team shot 60.8 percent. “Twenty-six assists against seven turnovers, we like to see those numbers.”
Wayne Ellington added 14 points and Deon Thompson had 13 for the Tar Heels, who are averaging 90.5 points with Hansbrough playing just one game and senior Marcus Ginyard out until December after undergoing foot surgery.
Green was 11-for-17 from the field Monday in scoring three fewer points than he did in his previous three games combined. Lawson, averaging 15.3 points, has scored 19 in each of his last two games, shooting 13-for-16 from the field during that span.
Joevan Catron and Michael Dunigan each recorded doubles-doubles as Oregon outscored Alabama 53-33 in the second half Monday. Catron finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while the freshman Dunigan had 18 and 10 rebounds as the Ducks won their second straight since losing 82-79 in overtime to Oakland on Nov. 17.
It was the second double-double this season for each player as the Ducks shot 52.5 percent from the field in their first Maui appearance.
The 6-10 Dunigan is averaging a team-leading 14.3 points with 8.5 rebounds and would likely draw Hansbrough if the All-American is in the lineup in this contest.
Oregon went 3-6 versus Top 25 teams last season, but looks to avoid a seventh consecutive loss to a ranked opponent. The Ducks won 68-66 over top-ranked UCLA on Jan. 6, 2007 in their most recent contest against a No. 1 team.