RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—In the silence just before the national anthem, a North Carolina State fan let reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough know what he thought of him.
“I hate you Tyler!” he screamed loudly enough for everyone on the RBC Center court to hear.
Apparently, the feeling is mutual.
Hansbrough scored 31 points for his second straight big game here to help No. 5 North Carolina beat the Wolfpack 93-76 on Saturday, the Tar Heels’ fifth straight win.
Ty Lawson added 16 points for the Tar Heels (19-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have bounced back from an 0-2 league start to put themselves near the top of the ACC standings. North Carolina dominated most of the way, shooting 56 percent to take a 12-point halftime lead then scoring on its first five possessions after the break to push the margin to 18 points.
N.C. State (11-8, 2-5) managed to cut the deficit to seven points midway through the second half behind a scoring flurry from Courtney Fells, but got no closer as the Tar Heels won for the 11th time in 12 meetings.
As for Hansbrough, it was a strong bounceback performance after an off day in Wednesday’s win at Florida State. Not to mention a not-so-fond farewell to the homecourt of one of North Carolina’s fiercest rivals.
When asked if he liked the fans at N.C. State, Hansbrough responded, “If they’re not cheering for us, then I don’t really like them.
“It’s all part of the game,” he said with a grin. “They are a rougher crowd. They’re a little tougher than most places.”
Regardless, Hansbrough has always thrived here, including last year’s 32-point, 12-rebound performance. In four visits, Hansbrough has averaged 26 points and eight rebounds while shooting 59 percent and hitting 27 of 33 free throws (82 percent).
“They do a good job of getting him open,” said Fells, who had 20 of his 22 points in the second half. “We’ve just got to do a better job of trying to contain him and make him shoot a bad shot.”
Hansbrough finished 12-for-17 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line with six rebounds in 33 minutes.
Compare that to his performance in the 80-77 win against the Seminoles on Wednesday, when he had eight points on 4-for-9 shooting and didn’t get to the foul line. That ended his 55-game streak of scoring in double figures and marked only the seventh time in his career he failed to score at least 10 points.
Behind Hansbrough, North Carolina took a 46-16 edge in points in the paint and shot 57 percent Saturday.
“It’s nothing new for him or for us,” said North Carolina’s Danny Green, who had 14 points. “He came out focused and hit some big shots and made some key moves. I don’t know why they weren’t doubling the way they should’ve been. He was national player of the year last year.”
Hansbrough left the game after hitting two free throws to crack the 30-point mark with 1:08 left to frustrated boos from the Wolfpack’s boisterous fans.
The rivalry game ended in heated fashion when N.C. State’s Ben McCauley delivered a hard foul to North Carolina reserve Michael Copeland on a scoring attempt in the paint with 1.9 seconds left. Copeland jumped up and went after McCauley, forcing the officials to step in and Tar Heels coach Roy Williams to wander on the court to calm Copeland down.
The officials huddled with Williams and N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe before issuing technical fouls to both players. Williams then sent Copeland to the locker room early.
Each team was coming off dramatic victories on last-second baskets. Freshman Julius Mays hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left in overtime to help N.C. State beat Miami 84-81 on Tuesday night, while Lawson hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Seminoles.
But North Carolina didn’t let it come to that this time, building a big lead than answering every push from N.C. State to maintain control of the game.
“In the second half, it seemed that every time they would cut the lead to eight or nine points, we would score a couple of baskets to push the lead back to double figures,” Williams said. “I was concerned for a while in the second half though that (Fells) was going to hit every single shot.”
Fells threatened to do that at one point, hitting a run of seven straight, including four 3-pointers, that helped the Wolfpack close within 69-62. But North Carolina ran off a quick 9-1 spurt that ended with Lawson blowing by Farnold Degand for a layup and a free throw that made it 78-63 with 6:36 to play.
Then, after the Wolfpack twice cut deficit to eight, the Tar Heels ran off a 9-0 burst—which ended with Hansbrough burying a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 89-72 with 2:26 left.
North Carolina has lost only once to N.C. State since Williams took over at his alma mater before the 2003-04 season. Two years ago, the Wolfpack beat the then-No. 3 Tar Heels 83-79 loss in Lowe’s first season, a game that ended with fans storming the court to celebrate what still ranks as one of his top wins.
Now the Wolfpack is 0-4 against ranked teams this season.
“They outplayed us. Their bigs outplayed us. That’s it,” Lowe said. “We had a lot of opportunities ourselves inside, especially in that first half. We just couldn’t convert. It just wouldn’t go in for us.”