No. 1 North Carolina routs Rutgers 97-75
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—Roy Williams was talking about North Carolina’s latest win. The Hall of Fame coach could have been discussing his entire season.
“Every time I looked up,” he said, “we were up 14, 16, 18, something like that.”
That’s been the theme so far for his top-ranked Tar Heels, whose latest blowout victory has placed them in good company. Their 97-75 rout of Rutgers on Sunday night marked their school-record 12th straight by double figures.
Tyler Hansbrough had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Ty Lawson added 19 points and Danny Green had 18 for the Tar Heels (12-0), who shot 51.5 percent and held a 40-26 rebounding advantage. They surpassed the previous mark of consecutive blowouts set by the 1992-93 team that went on to win the national championship.
No opponent has come closer than 15 points against these Tar Heels.
“Last year, we would get teams down at the end and they would inch their way back into the game,” Lawson said. “Coach said, ‘Keep a person down when they’re down,’ and that’s what we’re doing.”
Rutgers freshman Mike Rosario scored 26 points against the program he always wanted to play for, then was taken aback when Williams approached him late to praise his performance.
“My options were other options (after high school), so coming from him, telling me that was great and basically gave me motivation to keep working hard and keep doing everything hard,” Rosario said.
The Scarlet Knights (9-4) had their four-game winning streak snapped in the first of a punishing stretch of games this week. They face No. 3 Pitt on New Year’s Eve before a visit to No. 2 Connecticut, leaving them in an unenviable position to evaluate the nation’s best teams.
Then again, these Tar Heels might have helped Rutgers coach Fred Hill make up his mind already.
“This is the best team that I’ve seen in my years coaching,” Hill said. “I think they’re a very special group.”
The Tar Heels kept Rutgers winless in 11 games against top-ranked teams, and they did it with some vintage North Carolina basketball: Lots of points, lots of turnovers forced and, yes, lots of Hansbrough.
The school’s career scoring leader had his sixth straight 20-point game—he needed just 8 1/2 minutes to reach double figures for the 110th time—before taking care of his milestone midway through the second half with his 1,000th career rebound. He finished 10-of-15 from the field.
“Rebounding’s a big part of the game, and I think that’s almost as tough as anything,” Hansbrough said. “It’s a lot of effort, but also, I’ve still got to keep playing and hopefully I’ll keep getting more boards.”
Playing for the first time since Dec. 20, the Tar Heels never trailed and hit 14 of their first 17 shots. Then as the first half wound down, they built an overwhelming lead with a big run.
Green’s 3-pointer with about 7 1/2 minutes left started the 20-6 spurt that put the Tar Heels up by double figures to stay. North Carolina held Rutgers to one field goal during a 5 1/2 -minute stretch and took its largest lead of the half when Lawson followed his miss with a jumper from the left wing that made it 52-34.
Corey Chandler had 14 points, Anthony Farmer scored 12 and JR Inman finished with 11 points for the Scarlet Knights, who didn’t get closer than 12 in the second half and finished with 19 turnovers.
North Carolina allowed Rutgers to shoot 47.5 percent, but its most glaring negative might have been its performance from long distance. It shot a season-worst 28.6 percent from 3-point range—surpassing the mark established in its last game against Valparaiso—and matched another season low with just four 3s.
“Sometimes in practice, we make every shot,” Williams said. “We’re going to have some nights where we shoot it better, and some nights where we’ll defend better and still do the job about getting them to turn it over and getting on the backboards like we did tonight.”
Deon Thompson added 10 points for the Tar Heels, who also welcomed back Marcus Ginyard. The senior swingman had foot surgery that cost him 12 games, and played 11 minutes in his season debut.
Ginyard made his first appearance of the season during his team’s big burst, jogging to the scorer’s table to an ovation with just under 7 minutes left in the half and checking in at the 6:03 mark. His first points came about 3 minutes later on a remarkably athletic play in which he rebounded Will Graves’ missed 3, scooped it under the basket and flipped it in without using the glass.
“Will swore up and down it was a pass, but I thought it was a missed shot,” Williams said. “All those little things that (Ginyard) does so well … I wanted to get him a few minutes tonight and see how he reacted.”
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