Top-ranked Tar Heels beat Oral Roberts 100-84
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—Top-ranked North Carolina didn’t come out of its exam break with its sharpest performance. That didn’t stop the Tar Heels from cracking the 100-point mark anyway.
Tyler Hansbrough had 26 points and nine rebounds to help North Carolina beat Oral Roberts 100-84 on Saturday, the sixth straight game the Tar Heels scored at least 98 points.
Deon Thompson added 22 points for the Tar Heels (9-0), who shot 59 percent to take a 20-point halftime lead and were never seriously threatened from there. It was North Carolina’s fourth 100-point game of the season.
Still, the Tar Heels looked more like they cruising through the second half instead of playing with the edge that had carried them to impressive early season routs of Kentucky, Notre Dame and Michigan State. Coach Roy Williams was irritated afterward by the Tar Heels’ lack of rebounding—they were beaten on the boards for the second time this season—and a defense that allowed Oral Roberts (2-7) to score 50 points to outscore the Tar Heels in the second half.
“We were not sharp at all,” Williams said. “I’ve been pleased with what we’ve done, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. But not tonight.”
In the minutes after the game, Williams sounded like he was already planning several days of tough practices to get his team back in shape. He said they had practiced just twice in the past nine days.
“It’s going to come back to our team,” Thompson said. “I’m sure it will. I don’t even doubt that. Probably the bigger the games we play in, the more excited we get for the games. Honestly, I’m pretty sure we were more excited for practice yesterday than for this game today—just enthused and into it and screaming and having fun.”
Hansbrough was playing his first game at the Smith Center this season. He sat out the first two against Pennsylvania and Kentucky as he recovered from a preseason shin injury, then missed the North Carolina-Asheville game as he recovered from a bruised ankle before the Michigan State game.
He looked right at home early, hitting his first five shots on the way to 15 first-half points. But he finished the game 9-for-18 and missed several putaways near the basket in the second half, which could be attributed to what Williams said was his lack of conditioning following the injuries.
Hansbrough is nine points from breaking the school’s career scoring record owned by Phil Ford—which has stood for three decades—and could break it Thursday night when North Carolina hosts Evansville.
He played much of the game with a small cut on his left knee that required two stitches afterward. He sustained the injury when he collided with the broadcast table near midcourt.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Hansbrough said of the record. “I wasn’t thinking, ‘How many points away am I?’ or anything like that.”
He wasn’t alone in tormenting the Golden Eagles. Thompson finished 10-for-12 from the field, burying both soft turnaround jumpers and tough stickbacks inside to give the Tar Heels an unstoppable frontline. Meanwhile, Ty Lawson continued his strong play with 18 points, seven assists and two turnovers.
Hansbrough had a stretch of seven straight points to push the Tar Heels up 27-14 midway through the first half, a lead North Carolina would not let slip below double digits. Still, while they cracked the 100-point mark for the fourth time this season, the Tar Heels didn’t put together the kind of crowd-pleasing stretch to put the game away.
In fact, Oral Roberts hovered as close as 73-59 on a 3-pointer by Kyron Stokes with 10:41 to play and outscored North Carolina in the second half. But the Tar Heels kept attacking the basket in their fast-paced offense to stay out in front while Hansbrough inched closer to Ford’s record.
He ended Saturday’s pursuit with a three-point play followed by two free throws before leaving the game to cheers with 4:24 left and North Carolina ahead 92-71.
“You get down 20 points on these guys and they’re not going to let up,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. “I thought the guys battled. I thought they really competed throughout the whole game.”
Robert Jarvis scored 26 points for the Golden Eagles, who were playing a No. 1-ranked team for the first time.
North Carolina senior Danny Green, who had 12 points, left the game with a cut over his right eye after a collision with about 6 minutes left. He needed five stitches.