“This rivalry is probably more than I thought it would be,” said UNC freshman Tyler Hansbrough, who led all scorers with 20 points. “I didn’t know how hyped up it was until I came here.”
Other than committing 15 turnovers, North Carolina (8-2, 1-0 ACC) played an impressive offensive game – shooting 53 percent from the floor, 46 percent from three-point range (6-of-13) and 93 percent from the free throw line (26-of-28); all against the conference’s leader in scoring defense.
Entering the game the Wolfpack (12-2, 1-1) had not allowed a team to shoot better than 48 percent (Alabama), or given up more than 69 points (Miami).
“When we go out there and play smart, that’s when we get it done,” Marcus Ginyard said.
Hansbrough’s 14-for-14 performance from the line was the best by a UNC player since Phil Ford made all 16 free throw attempts at N.C. State on Feb. 24, 1976. The Carolina record is York Larese’s 21-for-21 night against Duke in 1959.
In addition, Bobby Frasor’s career-high 17 points led four Tar Heels in double figures.
“I got frustrated at myself with the turnovers and just wanted to come out and start being aggressive [in the second half],” said Frasor, who shot 6-of-7 from the field after the break. “Then, I came out and started attacking the basket and got some open looks.”
From the tip-off, it was clear this one would be a classic, pitting rebuilding UNC against what was being hailed as State’s best team in years. The Pack returned seven of its eight top players from a year ago, while the Heels had lost seven of their top eight. But although the cast of Tar Heels was vastly different than last season, the final outcome was quite familiar - Carolina's fifth straight win over NC State.
“They grew up big-time,” David Noel said of the UNC freshmen.
The Wolfpack nailed UNC with a haymaker in the form of an 11-0 run to start the game, and it took Carolina over four minutes to make a bucket, before countering with a 27-8 run of its own.
By then, the Tar Heels’ sixth man – 21,750 strong – became a factor.
“I made a conscious decision I was not going to call a time out if it was 44-0,” Roy Williams said. “The game is never lost in the first few minutes of the game. I know my team and I think it was good for them to fight their way out of it.”
But as the first half clock wound down, the game became more of what was expected – a defensive battle on both ends of the floor.
Late in the game, four straight points by State’s Cameron Bennerman tied the score at 69 apiece with 3:10 to play. However the Pack wouldn’t score again, as Carolina orchestrated a 13-0 run to close out the game.
“I thought their defense was outstanding,” NCSU coach Herb Sendek said. “Our defense was not as good in the second half as it needed to be.”
UNC hits the road in the ACC for the first time Tuesday when it travels to Blacksburg, Va. to take on Virginia Tech (10-4, 0-1) at Cassell Coliseum. The Tar Heels are 54-10 all-time versus the Hokies. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)